Bluetongue virus found at Baylham

OFFICIALS are today testing midges around Baylham House Rare Breeds Farm after it was revealed Britain's first ever case of the bluetongue virus was found in one of their cows.

OFFICIALS are today testing midges around Baylham House Rare Breeds Farm after it was revealed Britain's first ever case of the bluetongue virus was found in one of their cows.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced yesterday that the potentially fatal, insect-borne disease had been found in a Highland cow on the farm.

The virus is spread through livestock by midges.

Bluetongue is the latest menace to British farm animals, which are still threatened by foot-and-mouth disease.


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The discovery of the disease will not be considered an outbreak unless the virus is found to be circulating among other animals.

There has not been a clampdown in livestock in the area yet but should the virus be confirmed Defra said it would impose a 20km control zone around the farm.

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Defra said the discovery at Baylham House Rare Breeds Farm, in Baylham, was not considered an outbreak unless

Prime Minister Gordon Brown chaired a meeting of the Government's Cobra emergencies committee in Whitehall yesterday to discuss the situation before heading off to Bournemouth for his party's conference.

He held a conference call with chief veterinary officer Debby Reynolds and Environment Secretary Hilary Benn.

The Government's deputy chief veterinary officer Fred Landeg said all the other animals on the Suffolk farm - which is under restrictions - will also be tested for evidence of the bluetongue virus.

The infected animal will be culled.

Today the premises were closed to the public and an answerphone message said that it was not believed the closure would be for long.

Mr Landeg said contingency plans had been drawn up after bluetongue was found for the first time last year in northern Europe, leading to serious outbreaks in France, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium.

He said: "We knew that there was the possibility that infected midges could possibly be blown across the sea to areas like Kent and East Anglia.”

He warned that the effects of the disease could be particularly devastating for sheep.

Bluetongue, which does not affect humans, affects animals including sheep, cattle, deer and goats, and can be transmitted by midges.

Microbiologist Professor Hugh Pennington said the disease could not be transmitted from animal to animal - only through midge bites - and could not be caught by humans.

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