News Archive – October to December 2008

  1. 13 December 2008 – Bluetongue in Austria
  2. 11 December 2008 – Economic impact of Bluetongue in France
  3. 5 December 2008 – Bluetongue in the EU
  4. 5 December 2008 – Vector free period
  5. 4 December 2008 – EU vaccination and livestock movement rules
  6. 24 October 2008 – New Bluetongue Serotype in The Netherlands
  7. 17 October 2008 – Possible new type of bluetongue in the Netherlands
  8. 17 October 2008 – A successful, sustainable and low cost control-programme for bovine hypodermosis in France
  9. 16 October 2008 – Bluetongue in the UK, 2008 – an update
  10. 8 October 2008 – Bluetongue in Spain
  11. 4 October 2008 – Bluetongue – where are we now? What are the challenges for the future?
  12. October 2008 – Updated section on fly control in housed livestock

13 December 2008

Bluetongue in Austria, Vorarlberg

Friday 12 December 2008 – A second case of bluetongue in a month has been detected in a calf in Austria. The 2-month-old calf in Bregenz in the western province of Vorarlberg tested positive for the disease, but is not yet showing any symptoms, the ministry said in a statement. The dam had not been vaccinated at the time of the calf’s birth.

In November 2008 , the disease was detected in a cow in Schaerding, Upper Austria, during a routine check by the national Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES).

Vaccination against bluetongue has been compulsory in the provinces of Tyrol and Vorarlberg since July 2008 after the disease was detected in Austria’s neighbours in 2006 and 2007. Vaccination will be compulsory in the whole of Austria from 15 Dec 2008.

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11 December 2008

The economical impact of BTV-8 on French cattle and sheep

The consequences of bluetongue were evident in all areas examined. Deaths were up to 25% in sheep, 13% in suckling beef calves and 16% in dairy cows.

For the 1st time, a techno-economic study of the consequences of bluetongue disease evaluates that there is between 6 and 18 percent reduction of gross profit margin in farms with suckling cattle and between 1 and 8 percent decline in dairy farming. In critical cases, the losses will be up to 43 percent in suckling livestock and 12 percent in dairy cattle.

The crisis has had, and will continue to have, a major impact on the cattle industry. The direct impacts concern the production and/or marketing, but the indirect effects of decreased fertility are just as damaging. The drop in fertility is already being felt through decreased AI success rates and increased abortions. This could lead to possible medium term repercussions with a shortage of animals due to abortions, or increased intercalving periods.

The estimated direct effects on milk production were studied in the Picardy region, northeastern France, where 10% reduction in milk produced was seen in cows ill for 3 weeks. The losses are rather difficult to assess in the beef sector, but the data indicate a 23% decrease in export volume. Weight gain is affected; there are direct impacts on prices and the effects on the entire industry are already visible. Workload is increased by an average of 1.5 hour daily per holding.

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5 December 2008

Bluetongue update in 9 EU countries

As of 2 Dec 2008, 58 BTV-8, 14 BTV-6, and 1 BTV-1 cases have been officially detected in the Netherlands. BTV-6 seems to be widespread in the Netherlands. It remains unclear whether the BTV-6 is vaccine virus, a vaccine virus that has regained virulence, or a field virus.

Several studies need to be verified, full results are expected during the course of December 2008. The origin of BTV-1 is a bull from France. Following the discovery of BTV-1, investigations started and revealed that no spread of BTV-1 has occurred.

For more details see the presentation given by the Dutch authorities at the Standing Committee of 2-3 December 2008.

As of 2-3 Dec 2008, 24 469 BTV-8 and 4469 BTV-1 outbreaks have been officially detected in France.

As reported by the French delegate to the EU Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCFCAH), during the 2-3 Dec 2008 meeting in Brussels, the vaccination against BTV-1 and BTV-8 is compulsory on the whole French territory, the supply of the doses will start on November-December 2008, and all the animals must be compulsorily vaccinated before 30 Apr 2009.

For more details see the presentation given by the French authorities at the Standing Committee of 2-3 December 2008.

As of 2-3 December 2008, the Belgian authorities have informed on a suspicion of BTV-6 in 2 calves originated from the Netherlands. The necessary measures have been adopted. The competent authorities of the NL were informed. The pending results will be available soon. As of 27 Nov 2008, 1 855 565 animals have been vaccinated in Belgium.

For more details see the presentation given by the Belgian authorities at the Standing Committee of 2-3 Dec 2008.

Czech Republic
As of 2-3 December 2008, 21 BTV-8 cases have been officially detected in the Czech Republic. The whole territory of the Czech Republic has been considered to be protection zone. Vaccination is mandatory for cattle, sheep, and goats over 3 months of age. The number of animals vaccinated until 21 Nov 2008: cattle 1 236 015 (85.6%), sheep and goats 211 050 (96%). The State Veterinary Administration of the Czech Republic applied vector free period from 1 Dec 2008.

For more details see the presentation given by the Czech authorities at the Standing Committee of 2-3 December 2008.

As of 2-3 December 2008, 2487 new BTV-8 cases have been officially detected in Germany in 2008 (322 cases in November). As of 18 Nov 2008, the German authorities have confirmed the presence of BTV-6 in 2 cattle originating from the Netherlands.

For more details see the presentation given by the German authorities at the Standing Committee of 2-3 December 2008.

As of 2-3 Dec 2008, the Portuguese authorities have informed on 52 outbreaks of BTV-1 (644 affected animals) in Portugal. As of 27 Nov 2008, 146 275 small ruminants (35.34 percent) have been vaccinated in the new restricted area S1 (yellow area in the map) against BTV-1.

For more details see the presentation given by the Portuguese authorities at the Standing Committee of 2-3
Dec 2008

As of 2-3 Dec 2008, the Greek Authorities have confirmed the presence of BTV-16 on the island of Lesbos. All necessary measures have been taken in accordance with Council Directive 2000/75/EC. The whole territory of the island of Lesbos has been considered to be restricted zone. The evolution of the disease in Lesbos is continued.

For more details see the presentation given by the Greek authorities at the standing committee of 2-3 Dec 2008.

As of 2-3 Dec 2008, the Danish authorities have reported 15 outbreaks in Denmark in 2008. Vaccination is mandatory in Denmark; all cattle have to [be vaccinated] before 1 Jul 2009 and all sheep and goats before 1 Aug 2009. Denmark will not ask for EU co-financing vaccination in 2009.

For more details see the presentation given by the Danish authorities at the standing committee of 2-3 Dec 2008.

United Kingdom
As of 2-3 Dec 2008, the British authorities have confirmed the discovery of BTV-1 in 5 imported cattle from southwest France on a farm near Blackpool. It is the 1st time that BTV-1 has been found in the UK. The discovery will be a major worry to livestock farmers, as there is currently no BTV-1 vaccine available for use in the UK.
There was no evidence of the disease circulation, virus isolation is ongoing. Defra (UK Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs) will work to establish how the infected cattle arrived in the UK after it emerged they were vaccinated against BTV-1 in France.

As of 24 Nov 2008, 148 BTV-8 outbreaks have been officially detected in the UK and Wales. Vaccination against BTV-8 in the UK and Wales is voluntary. Scotland has compulsory vaccination, which started on 3 Nov 2008.

For more details see the presentation given by the British authorities at the standing committee of 2-3 Dec 2008.

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5 December 2008

Bluetongue: start of the seasonally vector free period

The decision to apply a vector-free season is based on a careful evaluation from a National Veterinary Institute of the current epidemiological and entomological situation and following the application of the criteria listed in annex V of the Commission Regulation (EC 1266/2007).

As of 18 Nov 2008, the Swedish authorities have informed on the seasonally vector-free period as from 15 Nov 2008.

As of 27 Nov 2008, the Italian authorities have informed on the seasonally vector-free period as from 8 Dec 2008 until 29 Feb 2009.

Czech Republic
As of 3 Dec 2008, the Czech authorities have informed on the seasonally vector-free period as from 1 Dec 2008.

As of 4 December 2008, the Swiss authorities have informed on the seasonally vector-free period as from 4 Dec 2008.

As of 2-3 Dec 2008, the Portuguese authorities have informed that no _Culicoides imicola_ were captured in November 2008, and the last capture of _Culicoides obsoletus_ was reported on 20 Nov 2008.

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4 December 2008

Bluetongue: EU to rewrite vaccination and livestock movement rules

Brussels bureaucrats have voted to rewrite bluetongue vaccination laws and stock movement rules.

A meeting of the Standing Committee on Food Chain and Animal Health [SCOFCAH] voted on 3 Dec 2008 for changes and details are beginning to emerge.

It appears movement rules for importing livestock into the UK could be tightened up, at odds with current free trade rules.

One Brussels official explained that certain areas of the EU would eventually be able to vaccinate animals while still allowing authorities to impose extra conditions on importing from zones where the disease was known to circulate.

But the official stressed this should not be seen as a mechanism to introduce a ban on imports.

“It will mean that some areas which have begun vaccinating will no longer have to freely accept stock from infected areas, as is currently the case.

“If that vaccination area could prove the disease is not circulating it could impose extra conditions on the import of stock from infected areas once the law is changed,” he said.

How the areas are to be defined is yet to be agreed. “It may be on a county or regional basis. For example, if one area is vaccinating against BTV-8 and could prove that the disease was not circulating it could impose new restrictions on imports from areas known to be infected with BTV-8.

“This could mean that areas like the southeast of England would find it harder to prove that the disease was not present than, say, Scotland,” he said.

“The vote will need further work to define the rules precisely and the new vaccination zones will not become law for at least one month maybe as long as 2 months.”

A UK farming industry official added that the proposals would take time to decipher.

“Exactly what this law could mean for trade between member states and indeed within the UK itself is still unclear,” he said.

“We don’t want more zones that make trade more complex, we have had enough of zones and people are fed up with it.”

A spokesman for the Scottish government said it had interpreted the vote as meaning that imports would be restricted to vaccinated animals or free transport during the vector-free period only.

“The development is therefore welcome and our hope is it can be applied to Scotland retrospectively,” the spokesman said.

“There remain concerns regarding the practicalities of implementing the new zones and we will be studying the detail closely to determine how this development can best be used to support Scotland’s interests.”

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24 October 2008

New Bluetongue Serotype in The Netherlands
The type of bluetongue detected earlier this week in eastern Netherlands appears to be BTV-6.

The voluntary vaccination campaign undertaken in the Netherlands has been targeting BTV-8.
BTV-6 is found, among others places, in Central America and Africa.
Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV), Gerda Verburg, has announced a so-called ‘containment zone’ of some 50 km around the infected farms, where restrictive rules are imposed.

This afternoon, the EU reference laboratory in the United Kingdom has confirmed the presence of Bluetongue serotype 6 virus.
The measures published on 20 October 2008 will be replaced by a new scheme, which applies to all ruminants such as cattle, sheep and goats.

The containment zone of 50 km around the 4 infected farms [in the provinces Overijsel and Gelderland, East Netherlands, bordering Germany

Animals for slaughter are allowed to be transported from the containment zone within the Netherlands, only from farms where no outbreak has occurred for 30 days. Stricter conditions apply to breeding and production animals: such animals will be allowed movement only if kept on midge-free holdings and following a negative test.
Transport abroad is prohibited. For pregnant breeding and production animals, which must be vaccinated before their insemination, this means that no export may take place.Export from other parts of the Netherlands is allowed, subjected to the same conditions required for transport of animals from the containment zone into the rest of the country.

These measures go into force on 24 Oct 2008, at 19.00 and remain in force until further risk of spread of BTV-6 has faded. The General Inspection Service (AID) controls the transport measures.

The European Union and the authorities of the neighboring countries have been informed.

There is, at present, no vaccine against BTV-6 available in Europe.
Such vaccines are applied in the BTV-6 infected areas elsewhere. It is still unclear whether in the short term such vaccines can be applied in the Netherlands. The availability of such vaccines worldwide, their applicability and quantities are being checked.

A ProMED-mail post

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17 October 2008

Possible new type of bluetongue in the Netherlands
A bluetongue virus (BTV) which clearly differs from the bluetongue virus present in the Netherlands since August 2006, has been detected on 4 cattle holdings. This has been reported by the Central Veterinary Institute (CVI) of the Wageningen University. Whether it is an introduction of another bluetongue virus or that it is a significantly distinctive variant of BTV-8, is being investigated.

“It is in any case a virus clearly different from the bluetongue virus serotype 8 that we are familiar with in the Netherlands. In addition, we know that it is not the bluetongue virus serotype 1, “said Piet van Rijn, a virologist of the CVI.

The virus has been found on 3 holdings in the same region, where the animals showed clinical symptoms of bluetongue. 2 of the said holdings had been vaccinated against the disease in the spring. The vaccination was completed well before the animals began to exhibit symptoms. The 4th infection came to light because the animal was tested for export.

“The bluetongue virus has a genetic code of some 20 000 positions. A very small piece of approximately 250 positions is used in the PCR test to identify all sorts of the bluetongue virus. In all samples examined so far, the maximal number of different positions was 3.
This virus has 11 different positions, making it suspected of being a new variant, “explains Van Rijn. “The piece of the divergent virus includes at least 5 positions which are different from all other known bluetongue viruses.”

The CVI is engaged with further investigation of the virus. So far, no extra preventive measures have been undertaken by the Ministry of Agriculture.

A ProMED-mail post

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17 October 2008

A successful, sustainable and low cost control-programme for bovine hypodermosis in France
Chantal Boulard, Michel Alvinerie, Gerard Argenté, Jerome Languille, Laure Paget and Etienne Petit
Veterinary Parasitology, Volume 158, Issues 1-2, 25 November 2008, Pages 1-10.

Bovine hypodermosis affecting livestock performance and the leather industry was still widespread in France up to the nineties despite successive directives from the Ministry of Agriculture since 1941, encouraging livestock owners to treat, on a voluntary basis. In 1969 the French Ministry of Agriculture, asked the national Farmers’ Animal Health Organisation (FAHO), to plan a durable hypodermosis control programme and a working group including all the partners in cattle production was set up, under the coordination of the national FAHO. Improved systems of hypodermosis control, including new treatment and surveillance methods were developed. Among the main benefits obtained from this original work, were (i) the identification of scientific data which allowed inexpensive and accurate immuno-surveillance procedures, and a highly effective low-cost treatment, Ivomec, administered at the micro dose rate (2 mg/kg), which is environmentally non-threatening, and (ii) the development of a new strategy to manage the control programmes progressively, on a regional basis, in two to three concentric zones over three successive years at a maximum. The current programme, coordinated at the National level since 1998, has been implemented in each region of France. The compulsory systemic winter treatments directed against the endo-parasitic stage, carried out by technicians and veterinarians involved the entire bovine population in controlled zones. As each zone reached a hypodermosis herd prevalence of under 5%, usually after two years, the treatments were suspended. However treatments of the infected farms and contiguous farms were maintained. An immuno-survey was carried out, each winter, to evaluate the prevalence of the disease and detect any residual foci or re-infestations. Since 2002, bovine hypodermosis in France is under control with immuno-surveillance maintained at a very low cost. In 2006 hypodermosis became a notifiable disease.

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16 October 2008

Report from Dr Chris Oura
IAH Pirbright
United Kingdom

A ProMED-mail post

Bluetongue in the UK, 2008 — an update
Throughout the 2008 transmission season in the UK we have received many ‘report cases’ for testing at IAH [Institute for Animal Health] Pirbright in which bluetongue has been suspected on clinical grounds, however, none of these have been confirmed by laboratory testing.

The vaccination programme in the UK has been voluntary and the take-up by the farmers has been good, especially in the areas where disease was present in 2007. It is clear that high levels of vaccine coverage (greater than 80 percent) have been achieved in the high-risk areas where BTV-8 was circulating in 2007. The early availability of significant amounts of vaccine (around 10 million doses were delivered by the end of May 2008) that enabled the animals to be protected before transmission commenced, combined with a high level of vaccine coverage, is likely to be the major reason for the lack of clinical cases in the UK in 2008. The challenge we now have is to maintain the vaccination momentum into 2009 and beyond, which will be vital in order to support possible eradication of BTV-8 from the UK in the longer term.

We have however recently imported animals from continental Europe into various parts of the UK that have tested positive by both PCR [polymerase chain reaction] and ELISA [enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay] for BTV-8 in post-import tests. Many of these imported animals were in the early stages of infection and had both high levels of viral RNA as well as viable virus circulating in their blood. At the present time we have no evidence that onward transmission of BTV has occurred from these imported animals and we hope that we may be saved by the high levels of vaccine coverage and the cold British autumnal weather, as these animals were imported late in the year at a time when temperatures have been relatively low.

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16 October 2008

Seroprevalence of bluetongue serotype 8 in cattle in the Netherlands in spring 2007, and its consequences

G. van Schaik, MSc, PhD1, I. M. G. A. Berends, MSc1, H. van Langen, DVM2, A. R. W. Elbers, MSc, PhD3 and P. Vellema, DVM, PhD1

1 Animal Health Service, PO Box 9, 7400 AA, Deventer, The Netherlands
2 Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority, The Hague, The Netherlands
3 Department of Virology, Central Veterinary Institute, Wageningen University and Research Centre, PO Box 65, 8200 AB Lelystad, The Netherlands

A cross-sectional study was carried out in spring 2007, at the end of the first bluetongue outbreak season, to determine the geographical spread of bluetongue virus serotype 8 (BTV-8) infection in cattle in the Netherlands and the consequences for some production parameters. Blood samples from cattle submitted to the laboratory of the Dutch Animal Health Service for other voluntary and obligatory health programmes were tested serologically for BTV-8. In total, 37,073 samples were tested and 659 (1·78 per cent) were seropositive. The samples came from 5436 herds, of which 45 per cent of herds had only one sample submitted from them. The prevalence was highest in the south of the country, where the outbreak had started, and decreased towards the north. In 340 herds more than 50 per cent of cattle were tested, of which 156 herds were located in infected compartments, and in 37 of these herds (10·9 per cent) at least one positive cow was detected. The average within-herd prevalence in the 37 herds was 39·3 per cent: 2·2 per cent in 11 dairy herds, 68·4 per cent in 20 small-scale herds and 14 per cent in four suckler cow herds. The prevalence differed significantly between herd types but did not show a geographical trend. The average net return for milk production amounted to €2417/cow/year and it decreased significantly on average by €48/cow/year in the bluetongue-infected dairy herds during the bluetongue period. On the small-scale farms, the incidence of mortality increased by 3·2 (95 per cent confidence interval [CI] 1·2 to 9·1) times in the infected herds during the bluetongue period, but the voluntary culling rate decreased by a factor of 2·3 (95 per cent CI 1·1 to 4·8).

The Veterinary Record 163:441-444 (2008)
© 2008 British Veterinary Association

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8 October 2008

A ProMED-mail post
Information received on 10 Oct 2008 from Dr Lucio Ignacio Carbajo Goni, Subdirector General de Sanidad Animal, Direccion General de Ganaderia, Ministerio de Agricultura, Pesca y Alimentacion, Madrid, Spain

Report type: Immediate notification
Start date: 08 Oct 2008
Date of first confirmation of the event: 10 Oct 2008 Report date: 10 Oct 2008 Date submitted to OIE: 10 Oct 2008 Reason for notification: New strain of a listed disease Causal agent: Bluetongue virus
Serotype: 8
Nature of diagnosis: Clinical, Laboratory (advanced) This event pertains to a defined zone within the country

New outbreaks
Outbreak 1 (2008/1419) Alhaurin el Grande, Malaga, Andalucia, ANDALUCIA Date of start of the outbreak: 08 Oct 2008 Outbreak status: Continuing (or date resolved not provided) Epidemiological unit: Farm Affected animals Species/ Susceptible/ Cases/ Deaths/ Destroyed/ Slaughtered Sheep/ 366/ 20/ 16/ 0/ 0

Summary of outbreaks
Total outbreaks: 1
Outbreak statistics
Species/ Apparent morbidity rate/ Apparent mortality rate/ Apparent case fatality rate Sheep/ 5.46 percent/ 4.37 percent/ 80.00 percent

Source of the outbreak(s) or origin of infection: Unknown or inconclusive

Control measures
Measures applied
– Movement control inside the country
– Vaccination in response to the outbreak (s)
– No treatment of affected animals

Diagnostic test results
Laboratory name and type: Algete (National laboratory) Tests and results Species/ Test/ Test date/ Result Sheep/ polymerase chain reaction (PCR)/ 10 Oct 2008/ Positive

Future Reporting
The event is continuing. Weekly follow-up reports will be submitted.

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4 October 2008

The Veterinary Record 163:406-407 (2008)
News and Reports
Bluetongue – where are we now? What are the challenges for the future?

Dr Chris Oura of the Institute for Animal Health (IAH) gave an assessment of the bluetongue situation so far this year in the UK at the BVA congress.

Dr Oura spoke about the 24 different bluetongue serotypes that have so far been isolated in Europe.

He discussed vaccination, commenting on how voluntary vaccination has so far this year been successful in the UK. Dr Oura commented on the outbreaks of BTV-1 and BTV-8 in France and the reasons for these outbreaks.

Vector distribution and control were also discussed.

For full text see the October issue of The Veterinary Record

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October 2008

Updated section on fly control in housed livestock
In housed livestock fly control on the animals is only the beginning. For truly effective fly control, fly reproduction and factors that influence reproduction of flies also need to be taken into consideration.

Read more in the new section on Fly Control in Housed Livestock.

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