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Further update on Bluetongue need for vigilance

2 December 2008

The recent case of Bluetongue through imported cattle, detected by Defra through post-import testing, came from within a BTV1 and BTV8 Restricted Zone in south west France . The animals have been culled. This is the first case on the strain BTV1 found in the UK (all previous case were strain BTV8, and each strain requires its own vaccine). No additional controls have been put in place but the National Farmers Union is urging the Government to suspend imports of sheep and cattle where Bluetongue is known to be circulating. No vaccine manufacture has currently licensed a BTV1 vaccine in the UK so we do not have vaccine to allow farmers to protect their own stock at the moment.

The National Farmers Union FU is urging all farmers in the region to attend NFU/Livestock South East seminars to find out how to protect against this increasing threat. Information through the NFU can be found through the following website which gives places and dates for seminars: http://www.nfuonline.com/

19 November 2008 - Post import testing has detected Bluetongue infection in one imported sheep on premises in Gloucestershire, and in a further consignment of six imported cattle on premises in Dorset (infection with BTV8). All of these animals originated in France.

10 November 2008 - The threat of bluetongue appears to be increasing. Although further investigation is needed, cases of a new strain of Bluetongue BTV-6 have been confirmed in the Netherlands , and it will be the first reporting of this strain in Europe .

This is quite different from strain BTV- 8 which is being vaccinated against in the Netherlands and the UK and constant vigilance is needed to watch progress of any new strain. Defra is conducting post-import tests on all consignments of cattle and sheep from continental Europe for all strains of the disease.

The threat of BTV-8 is still present and livestock keepers are still strongly urged to vaccinate against it. SEEDA has been helping support the NFU vaccination campaign and will continue to help re-enforce this message in this new crisis.

27 August 2008 - 2 new cases of Bluetongue have been detected, 1 in the South East

Defra today announced the detection of two cases of Bluetongue (BTV8) in imported rams, on premises near Lewes, East Sussex, and Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire. Both animals originated from the same premises within the BTV8 Restricted Zone in Central France. These are the first cases of Bluetongue virus positive animals found in the UK this summer. They were detected as a result of post-import testing carried out by Defra on all Bluetongue susceptible animals arriving from Continental Europe, in addition to checks at the country of origin.

Protection Zones for BTV8 across the EU are regarded as being "confluent". This means that it is legally possible to move susceptible animals from the BTV8 Protection Zone in France to the Protection Zone in England and Wales and vice versa. It is therefore not unexpected to find infected animals in the Protection Zone.

There is no evidence to suggest that virus is circulating between local midge and animal populations in the local areas. Full epidemiological investigations are underway.

A mass vaccination campaign against Bluetongue began in late April this year, and approximately 21.5 million doses have so far been made available to farmers to protect their stock Bluetongue has recently been confirmed as circulating this year in the Netherlands and large areas of France, despite vaccination programmes being undertaken. Similar re-emergence of disease in the UK would also not be unexpected in the coming weeks.

These cases emphasise the need for farmers to be aware of the risks of importing animals from within Restricted Zones. This also highlights the importance of vaccination. It is the only effective tool to protect susceptible animals from Bluetongue. Farmers throughout the Protection Zone should vaccinate as soon as vaccine is available to them. The message remains clear - don't hesitate, vaccinate."

20 August 2008 - Bluetongue Update

Defra has today confirmed that the Bluetongue Protection Zone will be extended into Northumberland and Cumbria shortly. However, this will not happen before 1 September unless the re-emergence of circulating disease requires it.

The intention is to roll out the Protection Zone to both Northumberland and Cumbria in one single extension, in line with scheduled vaccine delivery. This will complete the vaccination roll-out by bringing the whole of England into the Protection Zone’

28 July - Further extension of Bluetongue Protection Zone

Defra has today announced that the Bluetongue Protection Zone will be extended again on Monday 28 July.

The Protection Zone will be extended to cover Herefordshire, the unitary authority of Telford and Wrekin and the districts in Shropshire (North Shropshire, Shrewsbury and Atcham, South Shropshire and Bridgnorth) previously in the Surveillance Zone. Extension into the last parts of the Surveillance Zone has been agreed following a review of the vaccine available in the supply chain.

Vaccination is only permitted within the Protection Zone. This completes the roll-out to the counties previously in the Surveillance Zone and means that no Surveillance Zone remains in England.

Overall take up of vaccine in the Protection Zone remains high, although seasonal farming practices may be temporarily dampening some demand. All livestock farmers are strongly encouraged to be vigilant and to vaccinate at the earliest possible opportunity.'

18 July - Bluetongue update

From Monday 21 July the Bluetongue Protection Zone will extend again to cover Worcestershire and the districts in North Yorkshire (Scarborough, Ryedale, Hambleton & Harrogate), Cheshire (Macclesfield, Congleton & Crewe and Nantwich) and Greater Manchester (Rochdale, Oldham, Tameside and Stockport) previously in the Surveillance Zone.

As at 13:00 on 27 June 2008 there were 136 confirmed premises affected by Bluetongue. The most recent cases were found as a result of pre-movement testing during the vector-free period. This figure will normally be updated weekly on the Defra website on a Friday where necessary.

The message is very clear "Don't hesitate, vaccinate".

14 July - Bluetongue update

From Monday 14 July the Bluetongue Protection Zone has been extended again to cover all of the District of Selby, the Unitary Authority of York, West Yorkshire (made up of the metropolitan boroughs of Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield), Derbyshire (including Derby), Staffordshire (including Stoke-on-Trent) and West Midlands (made up of the metropolitan boroughs of Birmingham, Coventry, Wolverhampton, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull and Walsall).

The Protection Zone has been extended to cover likely new areas of infection and assure that animals are vaccinated in these areas to prevent further spread of the disease.

An additional 2.2 million doses of Bluetongue vaccine have been made available.'

7 July - Further extension of Bluetongue Protection Zone

The existing Protection Zone which already covers all of southern England will be extended on Monday 7th July to cover Gloucestershire, Warwickshire, East Riding of Yorkshire and South Yorkshire.

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