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BLUETONGUE virus (BTV) is the cause of bluetongue (BT), an insect-transmitted disease of domestic and wild ruminants. BTV is transmitted by Culicoides biting midges that act as biological vectors of the virus.
From 1998 to 2006, five different BTV serotypes (1, 2, 4, 9 and 16) have spread throughout extensive portions of Mediterranean Europe (Mellor and others 2008). In 2006, BTV serotype 8 emerged unexpectedly in the North of Europe involving Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands (Toussaint and others 2006). In 2008, two other BTV serotypes were detected in Northern Europe: BTV-6 in the Netherlands and BTV-11 in Belgium (De Clercq and others 2009, Maan and others 2010).
To limit direct losses and in an effort to minimise the circulation of BTV and allow safe movements of animals, authorities from affected European countries undertook vaccination of livestock with inactivated BTV-8 and BTV-1 vaccines. The vaccination of livestock has had a major role in reducing virus circulation and even eradicating the virus from some areas of Europe (Zientara and others 2010).
In 2011, the high vaccination coverage achieved across many European countries has resulted in the successful control of BT in Europe. No virus has been isolated in 2011 in the North of Europe (Belgium, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Germany) and …
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