Bluetongue outbreaks are continuing in France, with a further three outbreaks over the Christmas period, the World Animal Health Organisation (OIE) has said.

A total of 254 cattle were susceptible to the outbreaks, its latest figures show.

Control measures, including movement controls inside the country, screening and zoning were applied to the areas affected.

There has also been cases of the disease identified in Slovenia, Austria and Turkey.

Domestic ruminants such as cattle, sheep and goats are susceptible to bluetongue and mainland France has been free from the disease since 2012.

'Farmers need to remain vigilant against threat of bluetongue'

Farmers need to remain vigilant against the threat of bluetongue disease, the Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) at the Department of Agriculture in the North has said.

Robert Huey has urged farmers not to import cattle from affected countries.

“Unfortunately in recent weeks there have been isolated incidents of farmers importing cattle from European countries affected by bluetongue.

There are inherent risks associated with this and I would urge farmers not to import cattle from affected countries.

“The potential cost to the agri-food industry of a bluetongue outbreak has previously been estimated at as much as £25m per year.

“Responsible sourcing of livestock is critical to the maintenance of our high animal health status and ability to trade,” he said.