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Northern Europe Sees Big Rise In Bluetongue

17 August 2007

BELGIUM - France and the Netherlands have confirmed there has been a big increase in the number of bluetongue disease cases, as a result of warmer weather.

Cases are now in the hundreds, having risen sharply from below 20 at the start of themonth, with most of the animals affected being sheep.

Last year Belgium had almost 700 cases of the disease, which was the first time the tropical disease had been seen so far north in Europe. An outbreak of a new strain of the disease has also been reported in Spain.

In line with EU policy 20km surveillance zones have been imposed around the affected farms.

The re-emergence of bluetongue this year adds weight to claims the disease, which saps animal performance but poses no risk to people, will become endemic in northern Europe. It is spread by midges, and veterinary experts believe it will only be a matter of time before it crosses the Channel into the south of England.

This and foot-and-mouth disease happened as Romania faced the consequences of a swine fever outbreak, while Sweden had its first cases of the pig wasting disease, PPRS, also known as blue ear disease.

France has reported fresh cases of the H5N1 strain of avian flu.

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Source: FarmersGuardian


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