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Farmers Horrified By Third Case Of Bluetongue In Norfolk

26 September 2007

UK - The danger that the midge-born disease bluetongue will take hold in Britain appeared to increase last night after vets confirmed that a third animal had been diagnosed with the disease.

The latest case is at a farm near Lowestoft in East Anglia, about 50 miles from the first two cases on a rare-breeds farm in Suffolk.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was refusing to confirm last night that there were infected midges in the area, which would make it officially an "outbreak". But it is unlikely that the animals were infected by a single group of midges blown in from the Continent where the disease is now established.

Farmers have said they would view with "horror" the arrival of bluetongue in Britain while they are struggling to cope with an existing outbreak of foot-and-mouth in Surrey.

But the spread of the disease, which is usually fatal in sheep, across the county border to Norfolk will alarm ministers and farmers, who are already facing hardship because of the restrictions on animal movements for foot-and-mouth.

Government vets are catching midges in the area to test them for bluetongue. In a statement, Defra said: "At this stage, there is not sufficient evidence to confirm an active outbreak of bluetongue by the internationally recognised definition. It cannot yet be demonstrated that the disease is circulating or alternatively is the result of a single incursion of infected midges from abroad. Epidemiological investigations are underway to establish whether bluetongue is circulating in the UK."

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Source: TheIndependent


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