Bluetongue confirmed in five cows in Kent
27th November 2023
Farmers urged to be vigilant as further cases identified through additional surveillance.
Five cases of bluetongue virus have been confirmed at two premises in Kent, the chief veterinary officer has confirmed.
England’s first case of bluetongue in 16 years was confirmed earlier this month through routine surveillance, and a 10km temporary control zone put in place around the affected farms.
Additional surveillance has now identified a further four cases across two sites within the TCZ. The infected animals will be culled to reduce the risk of disease spread.
Chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss said: “Bluetongue does not pose a threat to human health or food safety, but the disease can impact livestock farms, and cause productivity issues.
“This detection is an example of our robust disease surveillance procedures in action and it is also a clear reminder for farmers that the disease remains a threat, despite coming towards the end of the midge activity season.
“Farmers must remain vigilant and report any suspicions to APHA.”
Bluetongue is transmitted by midge bites and affects cows, goats, sheep and other camelids. An emerging strain – BTV-3 – was recently identified, causing further concern as this strain is not covered by current vaccines.
Strict rules on the movement of livestock from regions affected by bluetongue are already in place. Animals imported from these regions must be accompanied by the relevant paperwork to clearly show they meet certain conditions designed to reduce disease risk, such as correct vaccination.
Following confirmation of BTV in a non-imported animal in England, some trading partners may restrict exports of bluetongue susceptible animals or their products. The latest information on availability of individual export health certificates can be found on Gov.uk.
BTV is a notifiable disease. Suspicion of BTV in animals in England must be reported to the Animal and Plant Health Agency on 03000 200 301.
A dedicated bluetongue hotline recently launched to help farmers looking for advice on the current situation: 024 7771 0386 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm).