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First UK Bluetongue case detected in Suffolk

23 September 2007

UK - Defra have confirmed that laboratory tests have detected the presence of Bluetongue in one cow on a premises near Ipswich, Suffolk, dealing another blow to beleaguered cattle and sheep farmers, already suffering as a result of the foot and mouth outbreak.

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First clinical signs of bluetongue: rise in temperature, followed by hyperaemia of oral cavity and mucus membranes leading to oedema of the lips, tongue and face
Click for more information on Culicoides - © Crown Copyright
Close up of the head of Culicoides imicola
Source: Institute for Animal Health
Bluetongue is a very different infection to Foot and Mouth Disease and the strategy to control it is therefore also different. This is not a confirmed outbreak unless further investigation demonstrates that disease is circulating.

Bluetongue is a disease of animals. It does not affect humans. This is a disease of ruminants, including sheep, cattle, deer, camelids and goats. It is transmitted by the movement of midges or by movements of infected animals if they are subsequently bitten by midges.

The premises where Bluetongue has been found is under restrictions. The one infected animal will be culled and epidemiological investigations are being carried out to assess the situation.

This is the first time Bluetongue virus has been recorded in the UK.

Defra has been working in close partnership with the industry to develop the Bluetongue Control Strategy and has jointly been involved in raising awareness of this disease.

The Health Protection Agency advise that people who have visited the affected premises do not need to be concerned that there is any risk to their health.

About Bluetounge

Blue tongue is a virus caused by a member of the Reoviridae family. The disease is non-contagious between individual animals but is transmitted by several species of Culicoides mosquitoes. The disease is found in countries where these mosquitoes are prevalent and clinical cases have been reported in Africa, the Middle East, the USA, Asia, and southern Europe. Recently, a few cases of Bluetongue have been reported from Holland, Belgium and Germany. It had not been reported in the UK until now.

Numerous species of livestock are susceptible to the disease, including sheep, goats, cattle, buffalo and deer. The clinical signs are quite variable and depend upon the virulence of the virus strain and the species of animal infected. Sheep can have high mortality rates of up to 30% whilst cattle are often only sub-clinically affected and only about 5% of cattle will develop clinical signs. (Ref: Animal Health Trust)

Bluetongue BTV-8 in Europe, April to August 2007

Outbreaks of bluetongue (serotype 8) have been confirmed in Germany, Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Luxembourg in 2007. All cases are within the existing restriction zones of the affected countries. These outbreaks indicate that bluetongue virus has ‘overwintered’ successfully.

Further Information

For further information on Bluetounge can be found here...

Bluetounge (Bluetounge virus - BTV)

Defra's information on Bluetounge (Bluetounge virus - BTV)


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