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DEFRA is urging farmers to monitor their stock carefully and report any clinical signs of disease immediately following publication of a risk assessment suggesting that the UK could be at risk of an outbreak of bluetongue during the spring or summer months of this year.
The risk assessment by the APHA, which was published on February 12, was carried out following continuing outbreaks of bluetongue, caused by serotype 8 of virus (BTV-8), in France (VR, December 12, 2015, vol 177, p 585). It reports that, by February 9, 173 outbreaks of BTV-8 had been recorded in France, mainly in central France, mainly affecting cattle, and generally causing mild or no clinical signs. A restriction zone is in place.
The risk assessment examines the likelihood of the virus being introduced to the UK via infected midges being blown across to the UK from mainland Europe. Mathematical modelling was carried out by three different institutions, looking at different times and points of incursion and the likely spread of disease with or without movement controls being applied. The models accommodated a low level of population immunity to account for any …