Once again Bluetongue (serotype 8) is present and spreading in central France. Most cases have been detected using blood tests in recent months rather than by clinical signs. If you can remember from a few years ago clinical signs of Bluetongue are more obvious and severe in sheep than in cattle.
The disease spreads via infected midges (not mosquitoes) and because of their size it is virtually impossible to prevent midges biting your animals. There are no fly treatment products licensed to prevent midge bites. The midges have to ‘incubate’ the virus within them for a period of time before they then bite a second animal and pass it on, this period can be anything from a few days to a month depending on the temperature.
DEFRA has released a document stating that it believes there is a high risk of BTV reaching the UK this summer and the most likely time is August / September. Any time when we have warm southerly winds this summer midges will blow across the Channel from France. Once a reservoir of infected animals is established in the UK then spread will happen quickly. The better the summer weather we have the higher the risk of significant impact.
There will be some animals present in the UK that were vaccinated during the last outbreak but as the vaccine at that time had an emergency license longevity of protection was not known. It is unlikely that those animals will be fully protected now. There is a vaccine made by Zoetis that can be used but at present this is not available in the UK. There is no rush at this stage as we are in a vector free period in the UK at present when transmission is not possible but by late Spring we will be able to advise you on vaccine availability and what you should do.
In addition any clients who export animals will need to take advice on the implications of vaccination on where animals can be exported to, or not.
For now we have re-posted our old website guide to Bluetongue which although some of it doesn’t apply now most of it is still relevant.
In addition the DEFRA risk assessment is also attached below