Article Text

Farm Animal Practice
Bluetongue virus serotype 8 in sheep and cattle: a clinical update
  1. Daan Dercksen

    Daan Dercksen graduated from Utrecht University, in the Netherlands, in 1987. He worked in general practice for three years before moving to the department of small ruminant health at GD Deventer, a partner of the Veterinary Surveillance Network in the Netherlands. He was a member of the specialist team that first discovered bluetongue in the Dutch outbreak in 2006.

  2. Chris Lewis

    Chris Lewis is a private veterinary sheep adviser and a director of the Moredun Foundation. A past-president and secretary of the Sheep Veterinary Society, he owns and runs a small flock of 40 breeding ewes producing quality lamb. He holds the RCVS diploma in sheep health and production.


BLUETONGUE was diagnosed in sheep in the Netherlands on August 14, 2006. Subsequent investigations indicated that the disease had been present in Belgium and Germany for several weeks beforehand. Bluetongue is a vector-borne disease that usually clinically manifests only in sheep, but this northern European outbreak also clinically affected cattle. The vector in the outbreak was Culicoides dewulfi, a subspecies of Culicoides obsoletus that is also present in the UK. Other C obsoletus subspecies or Culicoides pulicaris may have been involved, all of which can be found in the UK. Professor Philip Mellor, head of the European Community Reference Laboratory for Bluetongue at the Institute for Animal Health at Pirbright, refers to Culicoides midges as ‘plankton of the air’ as they have the ability to travel great distances in air currents. A concern is that, if bluetongue should re-emerge this summer or at a later date in mainland northern Europe, it may also appear in the UK; particularly high-risk areas are southeast England and East Anglia, although no area should be considered risk free. This article describes the clinical signs of bluetongue, based on those that were seen in the Netherlands last year, with the aim of helping practitioners to recognise and report the disease promptly in the event of a UK outbreak.

Statistics from

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.