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Welsh farmers urged to look out for signs of Bluetongue

(Adobe Stock)

Wales’ Chief Veterinary Officer has urged farmers in Wales to be alert to signs of Bluetongue as we enter a period where animals are at an increased risk of contracting Bluetongue virus from midges.

Bluetongue does not affect people or food safety. The virus is primarily transmitted by midge bites and affects cattle, goats, sheep and camelids such as llamas, and midges are most active between April and November.

Bluetongue is a notifiable disease, so any suspect cases must be reported to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

Further information on the clinical signs of Bluetongue and action to be taken can be found here: (Bluetongue virus (Btv) | GOV.WALES)

The impacts on susceptible animals can vary greatly – some show no clinical signs or effects at all, for others it can cause productivity issues such as reduced milk yield or reproductive losses, while in the most severe cases can be fatal for infected animals.

Farmers can help prevent the disease by:

  • responsibly source livestock
  • practicing good biosecurity on your premises
  • remaining vigilant

Keepers considering importing animals or biological products, for example germinal products , from BTV affected countries or out of disease control zones should consult their vet to check if this is permitted, and on the risks of doing so. This should always be done before deciding to import or move animals.

All businesses should have a contingency plan for both responding to disease outbreaks on their premises and if they might be in a disease control zone. Contingency plans should include details of where animals are normally slaughtered to check that abattoir is designated.

Richard Irvine, Wales’ Chief Veterinary Officer, said: “As we enter this period where animals are more at risk from Bluetongue from midges, I would urge all keepers to take action now to protect their herds and flocks to keep disease out, be aware of how to spot Bluetongue and report any suspected cases immediately”.

“Wales has never had a case of Bluetongue – but – with past cases in England and in Europe we are encouraging people to be vigilant and prepared for Bluetongue to strike again.”

Your local Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) office should be contacted immediately on 0300 303 8268 if you suspect Bluetongue in your animals. APHA vets will investigate suspected cases.