DEFRA confirms bluetongue (blue tongue) has reached outbreak status

DEFRA deputy chief vet Fred Landeg has this afternoon confirmed that Bluetongue (blue tongue) virus is circulating in the UK livestock and midge population.

To keep up to date this weekend on Bluetongue, visit our Bluetongue thread on FWiSpace 

He said this meant the UK was now subject to a Bluetongue outbreak and stricter movement controls would come into force. Principle among these will be the implementation of a 150km control zone.

This zone will replace the temporary control zone put in place earlier this week and now covers a much larger part of the country.

In some areas, movements of susceptible animals will be subject to both Bluetongue controls and foot-and-mouth controls.

Farmers must check that all licence conditions are complied with before making arrangements to move animals.

DEFRA secretary Hilary Benn said: “This is clearly very bad news for the farming industry. Our priority is to do everything we can to contain this outbreak which is why we already had in place precautionary restrictions and have today announced further measures.

“We are determined to continue to work closely with the farming industry and the farmers affected for whom this is a very difficult time.

Mr Landeg added: “Examination of the latest emerging evidence has led to the conclusion that the Bluetongue virus is now circulating between the local midge and animal populations. 

“We are acutely aware of the impact this and the associated control measures will have, but the decision to confirm an outbreak has not been taken lightly.

“Bluetongue is spread via midge vectors, rather than animal to animal. This means animals infected with Bluetongue will not be compulsorily slaughtered from now on. 

“There is no vaccine currently available, however we will consider vaccination in the event that a suitable authorised inactivated vaccine becomes available.”

In line with the UK Bluetongue Control Strategy and European law, a 20km Control Zone is being put in place around the area in East Anglia where cases have been identified to date.

Ruminant animals will be able to move within the Bluetongue Control Zone, but not out of it, except to slaughter in the Bluetongue Protection Zone.

In addition, a 150km Bluetongue Protection Zone covering parts of the counties from Lincolnshire to Sussex will be put in place.  Ruminant animals will be able to move within the Bluetongue Protection Zone but not out of it.

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