Published Date: 2018-09-26 18:25:06
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Bluetongue - Europe (02): UK ex France, bovine, st pending
Archive Number: 20180926.6054324
BLUETONGUE - EUROPE (02): UK ex FRANCE, BOVINE, SEROTYPE PENDING
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Date: Mon 24 Sep 2018
Source: The Independent [edited]
The contagious animal disease bluetongue [BT] has been found in 2 cows imported to the UK from France, health officials have revealed.
The virus was discovered in cattle brought to north Yorkshire from central France -- where BT has been spreading -- by experts at the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and the Pirbright Institute.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said action was now being taken to reduce the risk of the disease spreading, with restrictions on movement imposed on affected farms. The 2 infected cows have been culled.
Bluetongue is transmitted by midge bites and can reduce milk yield and cause infertility in livestock such as cows, goats, sheep and llamas [see comment]. But it does not affect people or food safety.
Following the successful detection in north Yorkshire, the UK remains officially BT-free. Officials said risk of the disease remains low, and exports are not affected.
Graeme Cooke, deputy chief veterinary officer for the UK, said: "This detection is an example of our robust disease surveillance procedures in action but must highlight to farmers the risks which come with bringing animals from disease-affected areas into their herds."
Mr Cooke said farmers must remain vigilant and report any concerns to the APHA and work with importers to make sure they comply with vaccination rules.
"Bluetongue does not pose a threat to human health or food safety, but the disease impacts farming, causing reduced milk yield in cows and infertility in sheep," warned Mr Cooke.
Farmers are also being reminded that the disease remains a threat despite the midge season coming to an end in October 2018.
The movement restrictions in north Yorkshire will stay in place for a few weeks until testing proves local midges are not spreading the disease, Defra said.
Officials remain wary of anything that could damage the reputation of the UK's beef industry. China has imposed restrictions on Australian beef exports because of concerns over the bluetongue virus affecting 2 regions.
[Byline: Adam Forrest]
[BT virus (BTV) has traditionally been a cause of clinically observed disease mainly in sheep of susceptible breeds. Though cattle and goats are readily infected, in the past this rarely led to a clinically detectable disease. This picture changed when BTV serotype 8 surprisingly penetrated northern Europe in 2006 (initially the Benelux and Germany, spreading southwards to France and later to other countries in west Europe). BTV-8 caused detectable clinical disease signs in cattle, mainly affecting milk yield and fertility.
The most recent update on the BT situation in continental France, which we have managed to retrieve from the internet, dates back to 14 Mar 2018 in an article named "Clinical signs induced by BTV-4 and BTV-8 viruses in metropolitan France, available at https://www.plateforme-esa.fr/article/les-signes-cliniques-induits-par-les-virus-btv-4-et-btv-8-en-france-metropolitaine.
The following (machine-translated/edited) information was included:
"Clinical manifestations are described for bluetongue virus (BTV) infection of serotypes 4 and 8 in metropolitan France (BTV-4 and BTV-8). Regarding BTV-8, data were collected for 75 of the 94 clinical outbreaks in bovines, detected between 16 Aug 2017 and 24 Jan 2018. The most common clinical signs were (in percentages): depression (41), drop in appetite and anorexia (35), abortion (32). However, even though BTV can lead to abortions (with foeti infection), a causal relationship could not be established for most outbreaks due to the lack of herd-abortion analysis. A review of the criteria for clinical suspicion of BT is, therefore, in progress, including abortions, with appropriate biological confirmation modalities.
Clinical signs have also been reported in sheep and goats infected with the BTV-4 virus in Corsica. The most common clinical signs were: depression (78), edema of the face, inter-mandibular or muzzle (42), nasal discharge, loss of appetite or anorexia, and hyperthermia (33). No clinical outbreak of BTV-4 has been detected in mainland France to date. However, the low number of outbreaks detected since November 2017, mainly during a period of vector inactivity, suggests a possible emergence of clinical outbreaks in the spring-summer of 2018. Event surveillance is, therefore, fundamental to monitor possible changes in traffic patterns and the clinical impact of BTV-4."
Information on the current BT situation in France is anticipated, as well as serotyping of the 2 (French origin) cases in the UK. It will be surprising if the 2 cows found positive upon arrival in north Yorkshire were infected by a BTV serotype that is not BTV-8. - Mod.AS
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