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NSA encourages sheep farmers to remain vigilant following confirmation of England bluetongue case

13th November 2023

The National Sheep Association (NSA) is urging all sheep farmers to be vigilant to signs of disease, following confirmation of a bluetongue virus (BTV 3) outbreak.

Defra identified a single case of BTV 3, a notifiable exotic disease and a strain not seen in northern Europe previously, in Kent this weekend (Saturday 11th November).

The last time the bluetongue virus was seen in the UK was in 2007, meaning it had been officially free of the virus since 2011.

Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, says: “We understand APHA is in the process of speaking to all livestock keepers within the 10km radius of the premises in Kent affected and this zone is mapped on the Defra website. NSA urges members within the control zone to comply with the restrictions in place, but also encouraging those who might be moving stock in or out of the at-risk areas of the southern and eastern counties of England to remain vigilant.

“BTV-3 infects ruminants, such as sheep and cattle, and is transmitted by biting midges that are most active between the months of April and November. Any suspicions should be reported, due to infected animals not always showing clinical signs of the disease. It can spread rapidly amongst ruminants, so swiftly notifying Defra is imperative for control.

Mr Stocker continues: “Due to a surge in bluetongue cases across Europe, NSA recommends maintaining good biosecurity, isolating any suspects and ensuring needles are changed between any routine vaccinations. Unfortunately a vaccine is not available for BTV-3.

“NSA encourages all sheep farmers across the country, not just those near to the confirmed case, to take a look at the official Defra guidance."

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