Department issue Bluetongue update after new strain found in mainland France

Cattle relax in the sun in a field in Wicklow, Ireland November 16, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Cattle relax in the sun in a field in Wicklow, Ireland November 16, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

The Department of Agriculture has issued an update on the risk of the viral disease bluetongue entering Ireland.

Bluetongue virus serotype 8 (BTV 8) has been circulating in France over the past two years.

Before that France had not recorded a case of BTV 8 since 2010.

To date in 2017, 1325 outbreaks of BTV 8 have been detected in France

In addition to the ongoing situation with BTV 8, on November 6 last Bluetongue virus serotype 4 (BTV 4) was detected in mainland France for the first time.

It was detected in a 15-day old calf in a veal fattening unit in the Haute-Savoie region of South East France on November 3 and confirmed as BTV 4 three days later.

The origin of the disease has not yet been established.

The French authorities have established restriction zones of 20km, 100km and 150km surrounding the outbreak and have introduced emergency vaccination measures.

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Corsica, Sardinia and Northern Italy are currently restricted for BTV 4 as are some other southern European countries.

Situation in the UK

On October 20, 2017, Bluetongue (BTV 8) positive animals were detected in the UK as part of routine post import surveillance.

The animals had been recently imported from an assembly centre in an area of France where multiple cases of BTV 8 have been confirmed since September this year.

As well as culling the positive animals, the four UK farms involved (two in England and two in Scotland) have been restricted by the authorities in the UK and surveillance to rule out any spread of disease is underway.

Risk to Ireland

The importation of bluetongue infected animals represents the most significant risk of the disease entering Ireland.

Farmers, practitioners and other relevant stakeholders should be vigilant and ensure that they are fully aware of the presenting clinical signs of Bluetongue in both cattle and sheep, and that they report any suspicion of disease to their Veterinary Practitioner or Regional Veterinary Office (RVO) without delay.

The Department says 90-95% of the midge species in Ireland are capable of transmitting bluetongue.

In Ireland, the period of midge activity and therefore the potential spread of bluetongue in the event of its introduction is between March-April and November-December each year.

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