Bluetongue virus imported in French cattle

Routine post-import testing has detected bluetongue virus (BTV) in a batch of French cattle imported into Scotland and North-West England.

Animal and Plant Health Agency (Apha) screening flagged up the batch of 32 cattle heading to Preston, Kendal and two locations in Scotland.

Ten of the animals came from an area of France confirmed to have BTV as recently as September this year, Defra stated.

See also: Bluetongue spreading to UK remains a risk

Senior veterinarians are hailing the discovery as a triumph of robust disease surveillance and reassuring that the UK remains BTV-free and trade is unaffected.

The National Farmers Union has told farmers the infected cattle have been destroyed.

NFU chief animal health and welfare adviser Catherine McLaughlin said it was important that farmers report any disease suspicions to their vet” and talk about the business benefits of vaccination.

Strict movement rules are in place on the holdings until any risk of spread via local midges has been ruled out.

Chief veterinary officer for Scotland Sheila Voas said that while disease surveillance has worked, the detection offers a timely reminder to farmers for the need to remain vigilant.

Chief veterinary officer for the UK Nigel Gibbens said: “The disease is still a threat, despite coming towards the end of the period when midges are most active.

“Keepers must remain vigilant and report any suspicions to Apha. They may also want to talk to their vet to consider if vaccination would benefit their business.”

Signs of bluetongue

  • Early clinical signs – depressed appearance
  • Swelling of face and ears – animal appears stiff and reluctant to move due to coronary band swelling at the top of the hooves
  • Facial oedema and nasal discharge
  • Fever – temperatures up to 40C
  • Foot lesions and blisters