Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Risk-based surveillance for bluetongue virus in cattle on the south coast of England in 2017 and 2018
  1. Katherine Elinor Felicity Grace1,
  2. Christina Papadopoulou1,
  3. Tobias Floyd2,
  4. Rachelle Avigad3,
  5. Steve Collins4,
  6. Elizabeth White4,
  7. Carrie Batten5,
  8. John Flannery5,
  9. Simon Gubbins6 and
  10. Simon T Carpenter7
  1. 1Epidemiology and Risk Policy Advice, APHA, Westminster, UK
  2. 2Pathology, Animal and Plant Health Agency, Addlestone, UK
  3. 3Department of Epidemiological Sciences, APHA, Addlestone, UK
  4. 4Information Management and Technology, APHA, Worcester, UK
  5. 5The Non-Vesicular Reference Laboratories, Pirbright Institute, Pirbright, Surrey, UK
  6. 6Transmission Biology, The Pirbright Institute, Pirbright, Surrey, UK
  7. 7Entomology, The Pirbright Institute, Pirbright, Surrey, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Katherine Elinor Felicity Grace, Epidemiology and Risk Policy Advice, APHA, Westminster KT15 3NB, UK; Katherine.grace{at}


Background Bluetongue (BT) is a viral disease of ruminants and camelids which can have a significant impact on animal health and welfare and cause severe economic loss. The UK has been officially free of bluetongue virus (BTV) since 2011. In 2015, BTV-8 re-emerged in France and since then BTV has been spreading throughout Europe. In response to this outbreak, risk-based active surveillance was carried out at the end of the vector seasons in 2017 and 2018 to assess the risk of incursion of BTV into Great Britain.

Method Atmospheric dispersion modelling identified counties on the south coast of England at higher risk of an incursion. Blood samples were collected from cattle in five counties based on a sample size designed to detect at least one positive if the prevalence was 5 per cent or greater, with 95 per cent confidence.

Results No virus was detected in the 478 samples collected from 32 farms at the end of the 2017 vector season or in the 646 samples collected from 43 farms at the end of the 2018 vector season, when tested by RT-qPCR.

Conclusion The negative results from this risk-based survey provided evidence to support the continuation of the UK’s official BTV-free status.

  • bluetongue
  • cattle
  • epidemiology
  • ruminants
  • surveys

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, an indication of whether changes were made, and the use is non-commercial. See:

View Full Text

Statistics from


  • Funding This survey was carried out by the Animal and Plant Health Agency and funded by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Scottish Government and the Welsh Government. Simon Carpenter, Carrie Batten, John Flannery and Simon Gubbins are funded by BBSRC grants BBS/E/I/00007036, BBS/E/I/00007037, BBS/E/I/00007033 and BBS/E/I/00007038.

  • Map disclaimer The depiction of boundaries on the map(s) in this article does not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of BMJ (or any member of its group) concerning the legal status of any country, territory, jurisdiction or area or of its authorities. The map(s) are provided without any warranty of any kind, either express or implied.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available on reasonable request. Further information on the approach to this study may be requested but information on participating farms will not be made available. Requests may be made to

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.