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Farm Animal Practice
Bluetongue in northern Europe: the story so far
  1. Gareth Hateley

    Gareth Hateley graduated from Cambridge in 1986. He is a veterinary investigation officer at the Veterinary Laboratories Agency – Thirsk. He is council member of the British Cattle Veterinary Association, and is its lead on bluetongue.


BLUETONGUE was first seen in northern Europe in August 2006 when there was a sudden incursion of bluetongue virus (BTV) serotype 8 (BTV-8). The disease recurred in 2007, with serious consequences for affected countries because of its rapid spread over a wide area of mainland Europe, and caused direct (due to both clinical and subclinical disease) and indirect (due to significant trade restrictions) losses. The virus arrived in the UK in August 2007. The availability of BTV-8 vaccine in 2008 led to one of the biggest mass vaccination campaigns ever experienced across Europe. The success of this vaccination programme was mixed, as the serotype continued to spread through France. The situation was further complicated by the arrival of BTV serotype 1 (BTV-1) in the Iberian Peninsula and, later, France; BTV serotype 6 (BTV-6) in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium; BTV serotype 11 (BTV-11) in Belgium; and the so-called Toggenburg orbivirus in Switzerland. This article reviews the events relating to the bluetongue outbreaks in Europe and the UK in 2007/08, describes the control methods that are currently available and the rationale for their use, and discusses what the likely course of the management of this disease might be in the future.

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