Bluetongue TCZs being lifted in Norfolk and Kent 

Defra is contacting individual premises under restriction to inform them of the development.

With bluetongue monitoring suggesting the UK is now in the vector low risk period, the UK’s chief vet Christine Middlemiss has announced that the temporary control zones are being lifted. 

Ms Middlemiss said recently on X: ‘As our bluetongue monitoring says we are now in the vector low risk period we’re announcing that the Norfolk and Kent TCZs will shortly be lifted. In coming days we contact with farmers who have individual premises under restriction.’ 

At the start of February there had been over 80 confirmed cases of bluetongue across Kent, Norfolk and Suffolk since the outbreak began in November 2023. 

BTV-3 is the new strain of bluetongue currently being found in northern Europe and UK and is mainly transmitted via biting midge, affecting cattle, goats, sheep and camelids such as llamas.  

Dr Marion England, institute fellow in vector ecology at The Pirbright Institute said recently:  

“The current weather conditions and time of year mean that Culicoides – the type of midge able to spread viruses, such as BTV-3, are highly unlikely to transmit the virus to livestock. 

“Under these conditions, midges previously infected with BTV-3 are currently highly unlikely to transmit the virus.” 

She added: “The most active period for midges is during the warmer months in spring, summer and autumn, and midges can become newly infected with bluetongue virus and spread disease when the weather is above 12° C for a sustained period.  

“Midges infected in late autumn 2023 are now not likely to be a risk for spreading disease because they usually die off during winter, and are not actively biting when temperatures are below 4°C.” 

Because of the reduced risk of transmission between midges and animals, Defra decided not to cull infected animals where test results indicate older infection and the presence of BTV-3 antibodies. 

For the latest update on BTV-3 and restrictions visit the Ruminant Health & Welfare bluetongue hub:  

Farmers can call the dedicated bluetongue hotline to get advice or ask questions linked to the current situation – call the bluetongue hotline on 024 7771 0386. 

In the UK, bluetongue, including BTV-3, is a notifiable disease, so anyone suspecting the disease must take action and report it to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). 

Read more livestock news here.

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