Help to raise awareness of the threat of Bluetongue Virus (BTV)
The latest update on BTV-3
BTV-3 has been reported on hundreds of farms in the Netherlands, and into Belgium.
Due to the nature of bluetongue’s ability to spread via infected midges, the risk of it reaching the UK is increasing. 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).
Further information and resources can be found here: ruminanthw.org.uk/bluetongue-virus/
What is bluetongue?
Bluetongue is a viral disease transmitted by biting midges, which affects all ruminants (e.g. sheep, cattle, goats and deer) and camelids (e.g. llama and alpaca).
What is the latest strain?
A new emerging strain of bluetongue BTV-3 appears to mimic BTV-8 in its behaviour, leading us to be extremely cautious to the risk it poses.
The existing BTV-8 serotype vaccine will not offer cross protection against this new strain.
Symptoms of BTV-3 can vary across ruminants, with sheep generally exhibiting more overt symptoms than cattle, but both can showcase clinical signs.
These include in sheep; drooling, mouth lesions, high fever, lameness and oedema (swollen heads) and sudden death. Cattle are not usually as severely affected but may show similar clinical signs as well as teat, eye, coronary band and nose lesions.
Advice for farmers
Advice to farmers remains three-fold:
1. Buyer beware, only source animals from Europe responsibly.
2. Take action, prioritise biosecurity and report any suspicious clinical signs.
3. Vigilance is key, monitor livestock closely.
Bluetongue is a notifiable animal disease. If you suspect it you must report it immediately by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. In Wales, contact 0300 303 8268. In Scotland, contact your local Field Services Office. Failure to do so is an offence.