Recent increase in Bluetongue outbreaks in France

Some 20 new outbreaks of Bluetongue in cattle have been reported in France since August 16, bringing the total number of cases reported to the World Animal Health Organisation (OIE) to 317.

All of the cases were detected as part of active surveillance of herds having as little as four cattle to well over 400, with only one outbreak of the disease reporting more than one animal infected.

In a total of 2,754 susceptible cattle, 22 positive cases of Bluetongue were detected. However, no animal died from the disease or had to be destroyed/slaughtered because of it, according to the OIE.

The reported outbreaks of the disease occurred mainly in the centre of France, with the Allier and Puy-De-Dome regions of the country most affected.

Most outbreaks were resolved in a matter of days, but there are still two cases on-going which were detected in August and four cases still continuing which were reported in September.

Bluetongue is a viral disease which affects ruminant animals, the disease is not contagious and is carried by a midge which is mostly found in warm climates.

Controls such as screening, surveillance, disinfection and the control of disease transmitting midges have been put in place to deal with the outbreaks, the OIE said.

The extent of the restriction zones have not changed as a result of these cases and have been the same since April 2016. Voluntary vaccination is also underway in France with a free provision of doses by the state.

The risk of Bluetongue spreading to the UK is highest this month, September, and at the moment the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has no reason to change their risk level.

DEFRA’s risk level remains at medium for this time of year and it has not increased the risk level to high as there are no reports of disease from either northern France or other countries in northwest Europe.