Third bluetongue case confirmed

A THIRD animal has tested positive for the bluetongue virus in Suffolk, the government announced today.Officials from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs revealed an animal on a farm near Lowestoft had tested positive for the virus.

A THIRD animal has tested positive for the bluetongue virus in Suffolk, the government announced today.

Officials from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs revealed an animal on a farm near Lowestoft had tested positive for the virus.

The first two animals to test positive for the virus were on the Baylham House rare breeds farm near Ipswich.

It has now been agreed that farm-to-farm movements in the area surrounding the premises, in both Norfolk and Suffolk, is not appropriate for the time being.


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Essex is also considered to be at risk of bluetongue, but as it is also in the foot and mouth disease risk area, farm-to-farm movements would not be permitted in any case.

A spokesman for Defra said: “At this stage there is not sufficient evidence to confirm an active outbreak of bluetongue by the internationally-recognised definition. It cannot yet be demonstrated that the disease is circulating or alternatively is the result of a single incursion of infected midges from abroad.”

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National Farmers' Union East Anglia said the confirmation that a third animal has tested positive for bluetongue is worrying news for livestock farmers.

NFU regional director Pamela Forbes said: “This announcement is obviously worrying but not unexpected following the large number of bluetongue cases there have been in northern Europe.

“We need to ensure the right steps are taken to try and avoid the serious impact bluetongue has had on livestock farmers across the Channel.

“Farmers are already on high alert against foot and mouth but they also need to be vigilant for any symptoms of Bluetongue among their livestock.

“A bluetongue outbreak would be difficult to deal with but farmers will be hoping that the disease can be contained with measures such as animal movement controls and insecticide treatment of places where midges are likely to congregate. The right action now could buy time for a suitable vaccine to be developed.”

Bluetongue is spread by the culicoides midge and affects cattle, sheep, goats, and deer. There have been several thousand cases this year in France, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Germany.

There is no cure but work is continuing to develop a suitable vaccine. Bluetongue cannot be caught by people and there are no food safety or human health issues involved.

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