Warning over ‘very high’ risk of new bluetongue infections

9th May 2024
Industry News

The UK’s chief vet has made a fresh plea for vigilance against the threat of bluetongue amid fears of a renewed outbreak in the coming months.

A new APHA assessment has found a “very high” probability of a new introduction of the bluetongue virus (BTV)-3 virus strain through infected midges being blown over from northern Europe.

Defra has today (7 May) outlined plans to offer free tests to keepers in high-risk areas as the transmission risk rises and is in vaccine talks with pharmaceutical firms.

Robust systems

However, UK CVO Christine Middlemiss has also urged farmers to monitor their herds for signs of the infection.

She said: “Our robust surveillance systems show we have now entered the period where biting midges are more active, and we know that the likelihood of BTV entering Great Britain is increasing.

“Despite the increase in midge activity, the current risk of transmission has not changed, but I would urge farmers to remain vigilant and report any suspicions to the APHA.”

A total of 126 BTV-3 cases have been confirmed in England since last November, with the most recent being recorded in early March.

Counties along the southern and eastern coasts of England – particularly Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Kent, West Sussex and East Sussex – are thought to be most at risk from new infections.

Complacency warning

Although the virus does not pose a threat to either human health or food safety, biosecurity minister Lord Douglas Miller warned against complacency about its potential impact on the livestock industry.

He said: “We want to ensure our control strategy is proportionate, and we will continue to work with industry to keep them briefed on the latest disease and veterinary assessments.

“Once the risk of transmission increases, we will also be offering free bluetongue tests to keepers in high-risk counties and we are actively engaging with vaccine manufacturers on the development of a BTV-3 vaccine for use in the UK.“


Credit to:  Warning over ‘very high’ risk of new bluetongue infections (Vet Times)

Vet Times. (2023).  Warning over ‘very high’ risk of new bluetongue infections [online]

Available at:  https://www.vettimes.co.uk/news/warning-over-very-high-risk-of-new-bluetongue-infections/