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Bluetongue virus confirmed on Norfolk cattle farm

Bluetongue virus has been confirmed on a Norfolk cattle farm <i>(Image: Newsquest)</i>
Bluetongue virus has been confirmed on a Norfolk cattle farm (Image: Newsquest)

Bluetongue has been detected in cattle on a Norfolk farm - putting the region's livestock farmers on red alert against the devastating animal disease.

Animal health officials confirmed two cases of the virus on a farm near Cantley, in the Broads, following routine surveillance.

A 10km temporary control zone (TCZ) has been declared around the premises and Defra says both animals will be "humanely culled to minimise the risk of onward transmission".

Eastern Daily Press:  A 10km Temporary Control Zone has been set up around the farm, near Cantley
Eastern Daily Press: A 10km Temporary Control Zone has been set up around the farm, near Cantley

A 10km Temporary Control Zone has been set up around the farm, near Cantley (Image: Defra)

The zone, which restricts the movements of cattle, sheep and other ruminants, is the second to be created in England following several confirmed cases in Kent, where the initial outbreak near Canterbury on November 11 was the first UK case since 2007.

The virus is transmitted by biting midges which are usually most active between April and November, and it has been spreading rapidly in continental Europe.

It is worrying news for East Anglia's livestock farmers. But Defra says there is currently "no evidence that bluetongue virus is circulating in Great Britain", although surveillance is ongoing.

Bluetongue affects ruminants including sheep, cattle, deer and goats as well as camelids such as llamas.

Defra says it does not affect people or food safety, but outbreaks "can result in prolonged animal movement and trade restrictions".

Christine Middlemiss, the UK’s chief veterinary officer, urged farmers to remain vigilant against the virus following the latest cases.

“Bluetongue does not pose a threat to human health or food safety, but the disease can impact livestock farms, and cause productivity issues," she said.

“This detection is an example of our robust disease surveillance procedures in action and it is also a clear reminder for farmers that the disease remains a threat, despite coming towards the end of the midge activity season.

“Farmers must remain vigilant and report any suspicions to APHA (Animal and Plant Health Agency)."

Bluetongue is a notifiable disease, and suspected cases must be reported to the APHA on 03000 200 301. For more guidance on symptoms and prevention measures, see www.gov.uk/guidance/bluetongue.