bluetongue syringe

French authorities have redrawn bluetongue virus serotype 8 (BTV-8) restriction zones as the tally of positive farms nears 100.

New regions have recently become infected in central France, the World Organisation for Animal Health has confirmed.

Cattle farms have been worst hit – 87 in all – with the virus also hitting four sheep and beef farms and four sheep farms since confirmation back in August this year.

See also: Risk of French bluetongue spread raised in spring

The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is awaiting a risk assessment from French agency Anses before deciding whether animals from within control zones should be “accepted”.

Dr Helen Roberts of Defra’s International Disease Monitoring Team said, given the mild autumn, the continual slow spread was “no surprise”.

Discussing the movement of the disease, she added: “Some “jumps” are being seen – which could be because these strains are generally not causing significant clinical disease in cattle, so cases may be missed.

“This does not affect the risk level to the UK, particularly at this time of year, as cold weather leads to lower vector activity. We will continue to report any further updates.”

Vaccinations have been restricted to animals in genetic breeding programmes or destined for export across zone borders.