Blue tongue symptoms

DEFRA have confirmed that the UK’s first case of Bluetongue has been detected on a farm in Suffolk.

Bluetongue, a disease which is transmitted by midges, infects domestic and wild ruminants and also camelids, however sheep are particularly badly affected.

Cattle, although infected more frequently that sheep, do not always show signs of disease.

Virus spreads between animals occurs via the midges of cullicoides species.

DEFRA have also said that the likelihood of mechanical transmission between herds and flocks, or indeed within a herd or flock, by unhygienic practices (the use of contaminated surgical equipment or hypodermic needles) may be a possibility.

Clinical signs include:


  • Eye and nasal discharges

  • Drooling

  • High body temperature

  • Swelling in mouth, head and neck

  • Lameness and wasting of muscles in hind legs

  • Haemorrages into or under skin

  • Inflammation of the coronary band

  • Respiratory problems

  • Fever

  • Lethargy

muzzle      sheep mouth    

bluetongue feet      bluetonguesymp

In cattle:

  • Nasal discharge

  • Swelling of head and neck

  • Conjunctivitis

  • Swelling inside and ulceration of the mouth

  • Swollen teats

  • Tiredness

  • Saliva drooling

  • Fever

Note: A blue tongue is rarely a clinical sign of infection

DEFRA guidelines to producers:

Inspect stock closely, particularly focusing on the lining of the mouth and nose and the coronary band (where the hoof stops and the skin starts).

If an animal is suspected as having bluetongue, it must be reported as quickly as possible. Telephone your local Animal Health Office immediately. To find out the telephone number of your local office, call the DEFRA helpline on 08459 335 577 or visit the DEFRA website.