It’s here. The five cases (23 as of October 3rd) of bluetongue virus found to date in animals in the UK have been declared an official outbreak by Defra officials. Farmers now have a new serious livestock disease threat to live with.
Deputy chief vet Fred Landeg says test results have shown the disease, which is transmitted by biting midges, is now circulating amongst livestock.
So far there have been five confirmed cases of the disease. All the animals which tested positive have been culled. The latest case was found at a farm near Burstall in Suffolk.
Mr Landeg told a news conference that laboratory results and further cases of bluetongue disease in Suffolk indicated bluetongue was circulating in the animal and the midge populations in the county. He announced a temporary control area from Lincolnshire to Essex to try and stamp it out.
There have been nearly 3,000 cases of bluetongue in northern Europe – including the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Germany – since July. It was generally agreed that is was only a matter of time before the midges and the disease hopped across the North Sea.
Says Mr Landeg – “We had a meeting of our bluetongue expert group, and taking that advice and given the recent experience in northern Europe, I can now confirm we do have bluetongue virus circulating in this country.”
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced the fifth case of blutongue un Suffolk on Thursday. ther cases were confirmed at Washbrook near Ipswich, a farm in Lound and in two animals on a rare breeds farm in Baylham, near Ipswich.