Bluetongue outbreak spreads into Portugal

PORTUGAL - More than 40 farms in southern Portugal are believed to have been infected by bluetongue disease, eight days after the first case was reported, authorities said.
calendar icon 29 September 2007
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The presence of the livestock virus, which is spread by midges, was confirmed on September 21 in a farm in Barrancos.

Since then another 42 farms in the region, involving more than 4,300 head of cattle and sheep, are suspected to have been contaminated.

According to the Agriculture Ministry, 183 animals have been reported sick and 33 have died.

The virus affects cattle and sheep equally, but only the latter go on to develop a serious form of the disease, the ministry said.

Bluetongue has been present in Portugal since the end of 2004, but until now had only been caused by the serotype 4 strain of the virus for which there is a vaccine.

The outbreak at Barrancos was the serotype 1 strain for which no vaccine exists.

Source: ABCnews
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