News Archive – January to February 2009

  1. 20 February 2009 – Norway’s 1st bluetongue case reported
  2. 20 February 2009 – Bluetongue Belgium, BTV-11
  3. 6 February 2009 – Bluetongue Belgium, BTV-11
  4. 30 January 2009 – Bluetongue in Israel: BTV-4, BTV-16, BTV-24
  5. 26 January 2009 – Greece (Lesvos) – BTV-16

20 February 2009

Norway’s 1st bluetongue case reported

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority says the country’s 1st cases of bluetongue infection have been detected in 2 cattle herds.

The food authority said on Friday that there is no risk to humans, and the virus is unlikely to spread to other herds due to winter temperatures. An agency news release says the 2 herds are isolated.


20 February 2009

Bluetongue in Belgium, BTV-11

Since the discovery of a cow infected with BTV-11 in the province of East Flanders, the FAVV has, in the context of its monitoring program, discovered 7 additional cattle farms where the same variant of bluetongue is present. These holdings are located in the provinces of Flemish Brabant, Antwerp and Limburg.

In cooperation with the European Commission, the Belgian Reference Laboratory CODA and the European reference laboratory in Pirbright (UK), the Food Agency’s investigations continue to determine the precise extent of the problem and whether — as suspected — a non-harmful vaccine virus is present. This presumption is not only supported by a limited genetic analysis (of the virus) that shows a great similarity with a vaccine strain used in Africa but also by the properties of the BTV-11 virus found, which caused no clinical problems [see also item 2]. To date, only a very limited number of holdings are infected, and, at any of these farms, only one or 2 animals have been reportedly infected.

The Food Agency is aware that these instructions still need to be substantiated. While in wait for further results of the investigation, several measures have been applied to protect any possible risk to Belgium’s trading partners receiving ruminants from Belgium. Thus, a large temporary control zone has been defined around the affected farms. All breeding and fattening animals intended for trade which are kept in this temporary control area or have left this area after 1 Nov 2008 and held elsewhere have to be sampled within 7 days (before departure) and tested for BTV-11. Animals will only be accepted for trade when the results of the laboratory are favorable.

The temporary control zone includes the provinces of Antwerp and Limburg, excluding Voeren, and parts of the provinces of Flemish Brabant and East Flanders, situated north of the E40 and the ring-road around Brussels and east of the R4 around and north of Ghent.

It is not excluded that in the coming weeks the FAVV will discover further BTV-11 infected farms in its monitoring programs. If these are located outside the currently designated temporary control area, the area will be extended based on new findings, and the same measures will have to apply. If the investigations show that indeed a non-pathogenic strain is involved, the Food Agency will lift the restrictions after consultations with the European Commission.


6 February 2009

Bluetongue in Belgium, BTV-11

The FAVV has formally notified the EU on Tue 3 Feb 2009 that the European reference laboratory in Pirbright identified on 15 Jan 2009 a new BT-serotype, namely BTV-11, in a sample from a cow from a herd in East Flanders. The cow was sampled in November 2008 as part of a routine investigation. In a 1st analysis in CODA, the Belgian Reference Laboratory, the possible presence of BTV was demonstrated. It was not BTV-1, BTV-6 or BTV-8, the serotypes known to circulate in our and neighboring countries. This finding was confirmed in additional samples from the same animal, but no final characterization of the virus could be effectively attained. Eventually, the samples were forwarded in December 2008 to the European reference laboratory, which reached the final conclusion concerning BTV-11.

The analysis results and the inability to isolate the virus point out that the infection of the cow took place during the 2008 season, though probably at a considerable time before the date of the 1st sampling in November 2008.

There are currently no indications that the virus would cause clinical problems.

This finding has no immediate consequences. There is currently only an isolated case of infection involving one single animal. The tests carried out in November 2008 and again during January 2009 in the said holding, as well as thousands of tests carried out during the recent bluetongue season on samples from the entire country, give no indication that BTV-11 could have been effectively spread. Such virus circulation is an essential condition for the
official recognition of a bluetongue outbreak.
Source; News release Belgian Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC; Dutch FAVV)

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30 January 2009

Bluetongue in Israel: BTV-4, BTV-16, BTV-24

An update on the testing carried out on samples collected during a recent outbreak of bluetongue in Israel, and the preliminary results.

Between 13 Oct and 24 Nov 2008, the Virology Division of the Kimron Veterinary Institute, Israel (KVI) received 12 samples (7 blood samples, 5 spleens) taken from animals in 9 locations throughout the country where clinical bluetongue (or alternatively EHD [epizootic hemorrhagic disease], when involving bovines) cases were reported.
From all samples (7 from sheep, 4 from cattle, and one from a goat) a virus suspected as BT or EHD was isolated by IV inoculation of embryonated hen egg. For confirmation and serotyping, all 12 isolates (egg homogenates) were forwarded to the Bluetongue Community Reference Laboratory (CRL) at the Institute for Animal Health (IAH) at Pirbright.

Once received at the CRL, RT-PCR [reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction] was performed on the 12 samples and all were found positive for bluetongue virus and negative for EHD. The samples were then passaged onto BHK [baby hamster kidney] cells and the supernatant was tested using prototype serotype-specific real-time RT-PCR assays for serotypes 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, and 16. The presence of
BTV-4 and BTV-16 was confirmed in 4 of the samples. The CRL were unable to identify the serotype of BTV in the remaining samples using both the serotype-specific real-time PCR assays as well as conventional typing primers for the 24 BTV serotypes.

The CRL then went about trying to identify the serotype in these remaining samples in 2 ways:
1. A Virus neutralisation assay (VNT) was set up and 2 of the samples were tested against control sera for all 24 serotypes.
2. Nucleotype specific primers were used to amplify and sequence cDNAs from these samples.

The VNT confirmed the presence of BTV-serotype 24 in the 2 samples tested.

The primers for nucleotype A (which includes serotypes 4, 10, 11, 17, 20, and 24) generated a cDNA product of the expected size (482 bp).
These amplicons were then sequenced, confirming that the remaining samples (except one sample) contained BTV-serotype 24.

This work has confirmed the presence of BTV-4, BTV-16, and BTV-24 in the samples from Israel.

The CRL are continuing to screen these samples for mixed infections.

Thanks to all the staff at the CRL and Arbovirus Research group at IAH, Pirbright for carrying out this work.

[Report prepared by:
Chris Oura, Peter Mertens, Sushila Maan, Carrie Batten, Anna Sanders, Narender Maan, Kyriaki Nomikou, Abid Bin-Tarif, and Mark Henstock (From the Arbovirus Research Group and Bluetongue Community Reference Laboratory, Institute for Animal Health, Pirbright Laboratory, Surrey
Hagai Yadin (From the Virology Division, Kimron Veterinary Institute, Beit-Dagan 50250, Israel)]

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26 January 2009

Bluetongue, Greece (Lesvos)

Information received on 26 Jan 2009 from Mr Spirus Doudounakis, Chief Veterinary Officer, Director General, Directorate General of Veterinary Services, Ministry of Rural Development and Food, Athens, Greece.

Summary of report

Report typeFollow-up report No. 2
Start date03/11/2008
Date of first confirmation of the event05/11/2008
Report date26/01/2009
Date submitted to OIE26/01/2009
Reason for notificationReoccurrence of a listed disease
Date of previous occurrence12/2001
Manifestation of diseaseClinical disease
Causal agentBluetongue virus
Nature of diagnosisSuspicion, Clinical, Laboratory (basic)
This event pertains toa defined zone within the country

For the full report and related reports see the OIE website, Bluetongue in Greece.

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