The Department of Agriculture has reminded farmers to remain vigilant of the threats posed by the bluetongue virus, as it says that warm weather increases that activity of the disease’s midge vectors.

The current mild conditions pose a threat to the livestock industry, as it increases the possibility of these infected midges being blown to Ireland from regions currently exposed to the disease, according to the Department.

The disease affects both cattle and sheep and although it can be transferred by animal bodily fluids, the midge is the primary means by which the disease spreads, as a midge bites an infected animal before biting another animal and transmitting the virus.

Bluetongue is characterised by a swelling of the face, lips and tongue. Other symptoms include fever, appetite loss, abortion, drooling and sores on mucosal membranes.

Notifiable disease

It is a notifiable disease, requiring immediate notification to the nearest regional veterinary office within office hours and notification to the national disease emergency hotline on 01-492 8026 outside of regular office hours.

The virus had been detected in continental Europe in recent years, but has yet to be detected in Ireland. The disease could have implications for agri-food exports if discovered.

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Bluetongue virus – vigilance required