The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) have confirmed four further cases of bluetongue in cattle in the southeast of England, within 10km of the case that was confirmed earlier this month.

Defra said yesterday (Sunday, November 26) that a further 4 cases of bluetongue serotype 3 were identified in cattle on 2 additional premises, following surveillance within the temporary control zone (TCZ).

The TCZ was set up around the initial case in early November, near Canterbury in Kent, with a radius of 10km from the case premises.

The four cases confirmed yesterday were detected within the TCZ. Both premises were less than 5km from the site of the initial case.

All 4 animals will be humanely culled to reduce the risk of onward transmission, Defra said.

Bluetongue is spread through the bites of infected midges. However, according to Defra, there is no evidence that there is circulating virus in the midge population.

The 10km TCZ remains in place and surveillance is ongoing.

Bluetongue does not affect people or food safety. The virus is transmitted by midge bites and affects cows, goats, and sheep, among other animals.

The midges are most active between April and November. Not all susceptible animals show immediate, or any, signs of contracting the virus.

The impacts on susceptible animals can vary considerably. Some show no symptoms or effects at all, while other animals will experience productivity issues such as reduced milk yield.

In the most severe cases, the disease can be fatal for infected animals.

Farmers and National Farmers’ Union (NFU) members in and around the TCZ can now access and call a dedicated bluetongue hotline to get advice, or ask questions linked to the current situation.

The bluetongue hotline is available Monday-Friday from 9:00a.m to 5:00p.m, to support farmers affected following the confirmed case in early November.

Farmers will be signposted to the Ruminant Health & Welfare bluetongue hub for the most up-to-date information and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) for queries relating to surveillance testing.

Farmers have also been advised to keep track of details on available licenses for any animal movements from Defra.