The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has said it is planning for a “possible increase of bluetongue virus” over the coming months as the weather warms.

The seasonal low vector period has ended, meaning biting midge activity (which spreads bluetongue) has increased with the warmer spring weather.

The risk of infected biting midges blowing over from northern Europe has increased, the department said.

However, the risk of bluetongue transmission and the risk level have not changed.

Farms close to the coast in counties along the east coast of England from Norfolk to Kent and along the south coast from Kent to Devon are at highest risk of incursion. 

Farmers should continue to monitor their animals frequently for clinical signs and make sure their animals and land are registered with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) so their animals can be located in the event of an outbreak, Defra said.

The department said there is currently no evidence that there is circulating bluetongue virus.

“Surveillance of susceptible animals and epidemiological assessments will continue. We will keep the situation under review,” Defra said.

The last confirmed case of bluetongue was on January 19. It was confirmed in a cow on the Norfolk/Suffolk border as part of ongoing surveillance at the time.

On Monday, February 19, the Kent and Norfolk temporary control zones (TCZs) were lifted.