A new strain of disease has been confirmed to have been found in the UK.

A case of an emerging strain of bluetongue virus (BTV-3) has been confirmed in a cown on a farm near Canterbury, Kent, the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) have announced.

Ruminant Health & Welfare (RH&W), the industry group representing the four UK nations, is advising farmers to remain extremely vigilant to the disease.

RH&W emphasises the need to follow the legislation on restrictions on animal movements.  

The identified animal in question has been culled, to reduce further risks of disease transmission and a 10km temporary control zone has been put in place surrounding the farm, to minimise disease spread.

The APHA are carrying out investigations to determine if there has been any transmission locally.

What is bluetongue virus?

BTV-3 is a viral disease transmitted by biting midges, which affects all ruminants, such as sheep, cattle, goats and deer, and camelids, such as llamas and alpacas.

This new emerging strain has been spreading rapidly in Europe in recent months, and with no current vaccine for this BTV-3 strain, RH&W’s advice to farmers and their vets remains three-fold.

They said: “Farmers need to beware when buying animals in, take action to report any signs, and always, remain vigilant:

  1. Buyer beware, source animals from Europe responsibly and request pre-movement testing.
  2. Take action, prioritise biosecurity and report any suspicious clinical signs.
  3. Vigilance is key, monitor livestock closely.

“The predisposing risks for this disease spreading include, infected midges being carried over from infected areas by the wind,  infected animals, blood, or germinal products (semen, ova and embryos) being imported from countries where bluetongue is prevalent.

“With this in mind, it is paramount that legislation is followed, and farmers and vets take action and remain extremely vigilant.

“Farmers must discuss the risks of importing stock from BTV affected countries, and pre movement testing, with their vet to mitigate risks and avoid buying in or spreading this vector borne disease.

“In the UK, bluetongue, including BTV-3, is a notifiable disease, so anyone suspecting the disease must take action and report it to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).”