The UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer has urged farmers to increase their vigilance for Bluetongue virus after the disease was picked up and dealt with in three consignments of cattle imported from France.
Two consignments were brought to two separate premises in Yorkshire, where the disease was identified as a part of routine post-import testing. All infected cattle, plus one other animal which travelled in the same vehicle and was found to be susceptible to infection, will be humanely culled.
The third consignment was taken to a premises in Northern Ireland where the disease was detected by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).
Bluetongue does not affect people or food safety, but outbreaks of the virus can result in restrictions on livestock movement and trade. The virus is transmitted by midge bites and affects cattle, goats, sheep and other camelids such as llamas. It can reduce milk yield and cause infertility and in the most severe cases is fatal for infected animals.
Action is being taken to ensure the risk of spread of the disease is reduced, with movement restrictions already in place at the affected premises.
Importers should be aware that all cattle and sheep arriving in the UK from countries where Bluetongue is known to be circulating will be restricted until post-import testing is carried out and the animals are confirmed as compliant. Any animals which are infected with Bluetongue will be culled and no compensation will be paid. Any animals in the consignment which are at risk of becoming infected may also be culled.
All other susceptible animals on the premises will be placed under movement restrictions until it can be confirmed that the disease has not spread.
Following the interception of these consignments, the UK remains officially Bluetongue-free, the risk of the disease remains low and exports are not affected.
Sources: DEFRA, 7 December 2018 and DAERA, 6 December 2018