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22 April 2024

Bluetongue does not affect human health or food safety.

The UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer has urged farmers to remain vigilant for bluetongue virus after the disease was found in cattle and sheep in Kent, Norfolk and Suffolk.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and the Pirbright Institute identified the first case of the disease in November 2023 through Great Britain’s annual bluetongue surveillance programme.

Current situation

We are out of the seasonal low vector period. This is because biting midge activity has increased with the warmer Spring weather. We are planning for a possible increase of bluetongue virus over the coming months as the weather warms and the risk of infected biting midges blowing over from northern Europe increases.

The risk of bluetongue transmission and therefore the risk level has not changed.

Farms close to the coast in counties along the east coast of England from Norfolk to Kent and along the south coast from Kent to Devon are at highest risk of incursion.

Farmers should continue to monitor their animals frequently for clinical signs and make sure their animals and land are registered with APHA so we can locate animals in the event of an outbreak.

There is currently no evidence that there is circulating bluetongue virus.

Surveillance of susceptible animals and epidemiological assessments will continue. We will keep the situation under review.

Find out more information on the latest situation and guidance.

Bluetongue does not affect people or food safety. The virus is primarily transmitted by midge bites and affects cattle, goats, sheep and camelids such as llamas. The midges are most active between April and November and not all susceptible animals show immediate, or any, signs of contracting the virus. The impacts on susceptible animals can vary greatly – some show no clinical signs or effects at all while for others it can cause productivity issues such as reduced milk yield, while in the most severe cases can be fatal for infected animals.

The virus can also be spread through germplasm (semen, ova, and embryos) as well as transmitted from mother to unborn offspring.

Strict rules on the movement of livestock from regions affected by bluetongue are already in place and farmers are reminded that animals imported from these regions must be accompanied by the relevant paperwork to clearly show they meet certain conditions designed to reduce disease risk, such as correct vaccination.

Following confirmation of BTV in a non-imported animal in England, some trading partners may restrict exports of bluetongue susceptible animals or their products. The latest information on availability of individual export health certificates can be found on

NI and GB ruminants cannot be exported from an GB Assembly Centre to the European Union or moved to Northern Ireland until further notice.

BTV is a notifiable disease. Suspicion of BTV in animals in England must be reported to the Animal and Plant Health Agency on 03000 200 301

More information about bluetongue is available here.

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