Further cases of BTV3 have been confirmed over the weekend within the existing Temporary Control Zone (TCZ) in Kent, however there has been a positive development that a designation has been confirmed for the ABP Guildford abattoir.
This is the first abattoir outside the TCZ to be able to accept animals for slaughter from the TCZ.
“The hope is that other abattoirs will now follow suit to obtain designated status as this will further help ease the situation in the TCZ’s for farmers to be able to move animals to slaughter,” says Dr Joseph Henry BVMS Cert SHP MRCVS, chair of the Ruminant Health & Welfare (RH&W) bluetongue working group and president of the Sheep Veterinary Society.
“The Guildford site can now accept animals on licence, so if you need to move animals, please apply for licences.”
“Whether for welfare needs or to send to slaughter, if farmers need to move animals at all, we’d encourage them to apply now, even if you don’t know if a licence is available at this moment in time.
“Please be as prepared as possible by planning and applying for a licence ahead of time – work with your vet to identify if there are welfare risks to your livestock. This may be needing to bring animals home as we approach lambing or calving, or for stock needing to be housed,” Dr Henry adds.
“Forage shortage, flooding, and poaching will also be a consideration for farmers at this point – consider if your animals are able to exhibit the five freedoms; freedom from thirst and hunger, discomfort, pain and disease, fear and distress or the ability to exhibit normal behaviour.”
Dr Henry explains: “We are still seeing positive cases of BTV-3 being confirmed, but so far these are all non-clinical, being picked up from the surveillance within the existing TCZ’s, so there is still no evidence of the disease circulating at this stage.”
Recent bluetongue cases confirmed include a case in a sheep on a new holding, then a further three cases in cattle have been identified from the same herd as five positives previously confirmed.
These cases are all within the Kent TCZ in the Sandwich Bay area. This brings the total number of cases to 23 associated with nine different farm businesses.
All these animals will be humanely culled to minimise the risk of onward transmission. The TCZ is not being extended and movement restrictions continue to apply to cattle, sheep and other ruminants in the zone.
“It is still fundamental for farmers to beware when buying animals in, take action to report any signs, and always, remain vigilant,” continues Dr Henry.
Details regarding how to apply for a movement licence can be found on the following website: Bluetongue: apply for a specific movement licence – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Legislation remains in place around any movement of animals into and out of the control zone. Farmers and vets can view the latest licences available and how to apply on the RH&W website bluetongue hub Bluetongue Virus – Ruminant Health & Welfare (ruminanthw.org.uk).
Farmers can call the dedicated bluetongue hotline to get advice or ask questions linked to the current situation – call the bluetongue hotline on 024 7771 0386.
In the UK, bluetongue, including BTV-3, is a notifiable disease, so anyone suspecting the disease must take action and report it to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).
Further information on clinical signs and resources can be found here: https://ruminanthw.org.uk/bluetongue-virus/