Sheep tests positive for bluetongue on Welsh farm

A sheep has tested positive for the bluetongue virus  (blue tongue) in Wales after a routine examination of the animal post import from the Netherlands

The sheep was tested in Llandysul, Ceredigion, by animal health officials working with the Welsh Assembly.

The assembly was quick to point out that this was an isolated incident from an imported animal and it had not been confirmed that the disease was circulating in Wales. 

Movement restrictions are now in place at the farm and the chief veterinary officer for Wales has ordered the immediate slaughter of the infected animal to minimise the risk of spreading.

Midge activity which spreads the virus is currently low which also minimises the risk.

Rural affairs minister Elin Jones said: “This is not good news.  However, as this is an isolated incident from an imported animal it is important to emphasise that Wales remains disease-free. 

“This is an imported animal out of a group of 14 and this case has arisen at a time of year when the risk of transmission is low.  The remaining animals in the group have tested negative.”

Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Christianne Glossop said: “This highlights the importance of farmers thinking very carefully of the consequences of importing animals.  While current EU legislation allows the import of animals from BT surveillance zones, there are risks involved as today’s events have shown.

“There is nothing to suggest the virus is circulating in Wales and we remain free of the disease.  A similar incident occurred in Scotland last year and they too remain disease-free.  There will be no change to the restriction zone announced yesterday.  We will be investigating the circumstances of this incident.”

No compensation is paid for the slaughter of imported animals which test positive for bluetongue. Vaccination is the best way to tackle the disease. Read our exclusive insight on bluetongue vaccination plans here.