Get the facts – protect your herd
There is currently a threat of a bluetongue incursion into Ireland.
No single risk mitigation measure can cover all possibilities.
Both national and stakeholder risk mitigation measures need to be in place.
How does is spread?
The following image explains the spread of bluetongue from vector midge bites. Bluetongue can also be spread through contact with infected animals. This is most often the case. Cases of transplacental transmission have also been reported
Cases of tansplacental transmission
- Recent cases in France of calves born blind and dying within a few days.
- PCR positive for bluetongue virus in vector free season suggests intra-uterine infection.
- Ongoing since 2016.
- 2-15% calves infected in affected herd
History and spread in Europe
Bluetongue expansion in recent decades
- Incursions into Europe from eastern Mediterranean or North Africa
- BTV-8 (thought to be sub-Saharan origin), emerged in NL in 2006 resulting in the largest European outbreak and costs >$2 Billion
- BTV-8 re-emergence in France in 2015 (?undetected maintenance since 2010/11)
- BTV-8 now spread to Switzerland and Germany
- S and E Europe continue to be affected by the circulation of both established and newly introduced BTV strains
- Strains commonly undergoing re-assortment
Risk of Bluetongue incursion into Ireland
The two main sources of Bluetongue are from
- Biting midges (Culicoides) and
- Infected animals imported from BT +ve areas. This is the most likely route.
- Be aware that they’re are no clinical signs
Animals certified as vaccinated may have Bluetongue virus in their blood
- Two recent instances of imported animals with evidence of BTV in their blood being imported into Ireland
- Very similar cases in UK
- 3 consignments since Oct 2017
- One with positive in NI and animals from same consignment going to Ireland also
- Animals imported from France
- To have an outbreak there must be evidence of virus spread
- Luckily winter time when problem animals imported
- Extensive surveillance was required to show that there was no evidence of spread
How would an outbreak affect Ireland?
In a country the size of Ireland, the effects of an outbreak would be felt throughout much of the country. Attempts to control the outbreak could be felt for up to a radius of 150km.
- 20 km
- 6,000 holdings
- 0.6 m animals
- 25-100 km
- 54,000 holdings
- 4 m animals
- Total 150 km
- 96,000 holdings
- 8 m animals
How to mitigate the risk of contracting Bluetongue in your herd?
- Don’t import from BT area unless really necessary
- Reputable source
- Liaise with RVO well in advance and keep RVO up-to-date
- Seek extra assurance by accredited pre-export PCR test
- Import in vector free season (mid Dec – mid March)
- On arrival, keep any imported animals isolated and indoors until they have been tested for BTV by DAFM and have returned a negative test result.