Educating the Veterinary Students of Tomorrow

Bluetongue: An Emerging Disease

                                & the effects of positive cattle imports in the UK

Bluetongue is a viral disease that most commonly affects sheep or cattle but also goats, deer and camelids (llamas and alpacas). It is transmitted by the Culicoides midge with the largest number of cases seen in the late summer and autumn (NADIS, 2017). Many cattle infected with the disease show no clinical signs but occasionally signs can include swelling and ulcers in the mouth, nasal discharge and swollen teats (DEFRA, 2014). Bluetongue is a notifiable disease and must be reported to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) if suspected or confirmed (DEFRA, 2014).

In the UK, the virus is well controlled with good biosecurity and vaccinations. However, vets are now calling for vigilance after a number of cattle imported to the UK from France tested positive for the Bluetongue virus 8 during routine post-movement tests (BVA, 2017). All animals that tested positive for the virus or that are at high risk of being infected were culled, and restrictions placed on the farms (Vet times, 2017). By importing positive animals, it increases the likelihood that Bluetongue will spread amongst the UK herd. Furthermore, with the mild autumn weather and large number of midges, the threat of disease spread is high (BVA, 2017).

Veterinary bodies such as the British Veterinary Association (BVA) are stressing the importance of the responsible sourcing of animals and fully understanding the risks of importing animals from areas where the disease is known to be circulating (BVA, 2017).  

For more information regarding Bluetongue, see the websites below:





BVA. (2017) Vets urge vigilance after Bluetongue- positive animals imported to England and Scotland. Available at: https://www.bva.co.uk/news-campaigns-and-policy/newsroom/news-releases/vets-urge-vigilance-after-bluetongue-positive-animals-imported-to-england-and-scotland/ (Accessed on 10th November 2017)

DEFRA. (2014) Bluetongue: how to spot and report the disease. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/bluetongue (Accessed on 10th November 2017)

NADIS. (2017) Bluetongue in Cattle and Sheep. Available at: http://www.nadis.org.uk/bulletins/bluetongue-in-cattle-and-sheep.aspx (Accessed on 10th November 2017)

Vet times. (2017) Bluetongue-positive cattle imported to UK. Available at: https://www.vettimes.co.uk/news/bluetongue-positive-cattle-imported-to-uk/ (Accessed on 10th November 2017)