BLUETONGUE UPDATE IN LATEST APHA REPORT: APHA published its quarterly Small Ruminant Emerging Threats report recently, detailing the disease situation for sheep. The report includes an update on bluetongue, which continues to be a problem in France. The restriction zone in France has not yet reached the North coast and, when it does, APHA says the risk assessment for the UK is likely to change.  At the moment there are no vaccines available within the UK, however speak to us at Severn Edge if you would like more information about when it will be released.

France continues to report BTV8 from the results of the winter surveillance campaign (Fig A). Only cattle are tested and no clinical signs have been observed. The new cases reported have resulted in an increase in the restriction zones towards the West and the South. In addition, there has been vector surveillance carried out to implement seasonally free zones in certain regions. An updated outbreak assessment has been produced, with more details to follow.

French Map

Recently France has reported more outbreaks, all but one in cattle and the other in a goat but all as a result of surveillance not as clinical reports of disease. The restriction zone has been extended but has still not reached the north coast, but when it does, our risk level will likely change. Recent cold weather may have slowed the spread but it is not expected to last long and warmer weather will mean an increase in vector activity.

To date there have been 272 outbreaks detected by surveillance activities, with only 12 reports of clinical disease in animals (cattle, sheep and goats). Under the French national surveillance programme, nearly 40,000 cattle on over 1,300 farms in 89 departments were tested in September and October 2015. This continues to support the evidence that BTV-8 presents with few clinical signs in cattle. The “seasonally free zone” status of several regions has now been lifted as vector activity has increased or as cases are detected. Clearly the infection has overwintered and vaccination is too limited in France to prevent spread in 2016.

The UK does not have agreement with France to accept unvaccinated animals under any sort of bilateral agreement from seasonally free zones. Italy has reported four outbreaks of BTV-1 and one of BTV-4, in cattle in various regions. Disease control measures are in place, including vaccination. The Portuguese authorities have somewhat belatedly reported 10 outbreaks of BTV-1 which occurred in the south of the country in December 2015.

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