Bluetongue outbreaks appear to have slowed down in France, with no recent updates of outbreaks of the disease from the French authorities.

The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has said that its risk level remains the same at medium for this time of year.

However, if daily average temperatures increase in mainland France and the disease starts to circulate towards the north or northeast of the country, DEFRA's risk level will start to increase.

A total of 286 outbreaks of the strain of the disease have been reported to the World Animal Health Organisation (OIE), with just one new outbreak since June 8 - a day old calf in southern France.

The calf died and tested positive for the disease, according to DEFRA, despite the mother being clinically well.

DEFRA has said that it is without doubt a case of transplacental transmission and not active transmission directly to the calf itself.

Precautionary measures

Meanwhile, the Belgian Authorities made available 2.1m doses of BTV-8 vaccine in April, with a further 1.4m doses for cattle and 300,000 for sheep in June and then 1.4m for cattle in July, according to DEFRA.

In Germany the situation depends upon the individual State, however it said that in general several vaccines for BTV-8 are available and producers may vaccinate animals with any approved vaccine on the basis of an FLI risk assessment and provided the authorities are notified.

Spain has been vaccinating in the area south of Pyrenees bordering France, where there are an estimated 1m cattle and 2m small ruminants, the Ministerio de Agricultura there said this year.

DEFRA confirmed that it will continue to monitor the current situation in France and that a vaccine will be available for the British market from mid-July onwards, but the decision to vaccinate should be with the farmer, in consultation with their private veterinary surgeon.