Two new cases of bluetongue virus have been confirmed in cattle in England.

Both cases are linked to a holding with previously confirmed cases of bluetongue, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has said.

The latest cases have extended the original 10km temporary control zone (TCZ), as these animals were recently grazing on a premises outside the TCZ, chair of the ruminant health and welfare (RHW) bluetongue working group Dr Joseph Henry said.

“The TCZ has been extended to cover the north and east coasts of Kent.

“All of the additional confirmed cases have been on holdings within the TCZ that surrounds the original case found near Canterbury, Kent, on 11 November.

“Ongoing surveillance of all livestock will continue in the newly expanded TCZ,” Henry added.

This brings to seven the total number of bluetongue cases in England.

No vaccine

The cattle tested positive for bluetongue serotype 3 (BTV 3), the strain of the disease there is no vaccine for.

Both animals have been humanely culled to minimise the risk of onward transmission.

Bluetongue, which affects ruminants, is spread by midges. It can also be spread through biological products such as blood or as semen or embryos. Infected animals can pass the virus on to their offspring.

DEFRA said there is no evidence of the virus circulating in the UK midge population.

Bluetongue does not affect humans or pose a risk to food safety.

Movement ban

The first bluetongue case in England resulted in a ban on cattle, sheep and other ruminants moving to the island of Ireland.

No cases of bluetongue have been confirmed on the island of Ireland to date.

In Ireland, officials on both sides of the border are working to trace all cattle and sheep movements from Britain and Ireland since 1 October.

Farmers who imported livestock since the beginning of October will be contacted by the regional veterinary office to arrange testing.

Bluetongue is a notifiable disease, therefore cases must be reported to the Department of Agriculture.

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