The Dutch ministry of agriculture has imposed an export and breeding ban on animals susceptible to bluetongue after a possible new strain of the disease was discovered.

Three animals on different farms in eastern Holland tested positive for a form of bluetongue which differs from the strain usually found in the country.

Dutch scientists have begun investigations into whether the strain is a variant of BTV8, the strain being vaccinated against in the UK, or new type of the virus.

As a precautionary measure, the Dutch farming minister imposed an export ban on bluetongue-susceptible animals from yesterday (20 October)

Under the move, which is initially in place for two weeks, producers are also banned from breeding sheep, cattle and goats.

The ministry said it would make a further decision over the ban once more was found out about the strain.

Dutch farming organisation LTO told Farmers Weekly‘s sister paper Boerderij that it supported the export ban.

“Given the pressure from abroad and the worrying situation we are in because we don’t know what is going on, this measure is appropriate,” a spokesman said.

“The measure will cause economic damage, but sometimes there are larger interests at stake.”