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Welsh farmers urged to be vigilant for signs of midge-borne virus

07 May 2024 3 minute read
Photo Hywel Morgan

Welsh farmers are being urged to be vigilant for signs of the insect-borne viral disease ‘Bluetongue’ as midges become more active.

The virus affects cattle, goats, sheep and camelids such as llamas and is primarily transmitted by midge bites.

Midges are most active between April and November and Wales’ Chief Veterinary Officer has urged farmers in Wales to be alert to signs of the virus.

The virus does not affect people or food safety.

The impacts on susceptible animals can vary greatly – some show no clinical signs or effects at all, for others it can cause productivity issues such as reduced milk yield or reproductive losses, while in the most severe cases can be fatal for infected animals.

Bluetongue is a notifiable disease, so any suspect cases must be reported to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

Farmers can help to prevent the disease by responsibly sourcing livestock, remaining vigilant and practicing good biosecurity on farm premises.

Keepers considering importing animals or biological products, for example germinal products, from BTV affected countries or out of disease control zones should consult their vet to check if this is permitted, and on the risks of doing so.

This should always be done before deciding to import or move animals.

All businesses should have a contingency plan for both responding to disease outbreaks on their premises and if they might be in a disease control zone.

Contingency plans should include details of where animals are normally slaughtered to check that an abattoir is designated.


Richard Irvine, Wales’ Chief Veterinary Officer, said: “As we enter this period where animals are more at risk from Bluetongue from midges, I would urge all keepers to take action now to protect their herds and flocks to keep disease out, be aware of how to spot Bluetongue and report any suspected cases immediately.

“Wales has never had a case of Bluetongue – but – with past cases in England and in Europe we are encouraging people to be vigilant and prepared for Bluetongue to strike again.”

A local Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) office should be contacted immediately on 0300 303 8268 if Bluetongue is suspected in any animals.

APHA vets will investigate suspected cases.

Further information on the clinical signs of Bluetongue and action to be taken can be found here.

Further information and resources on the current bluetongue situation are also available on the Ruminant Health and Welfare website.

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