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Latest bluetongue virus update

Legislation is now in place around movement of animals into and out of the temporary control zone. For up to date information on the location of the control zone visit the Defra website here.

APHA Interactive Bluetongue virus map available here.

If you have further questions or you would like to speak to someone, please call the bluetongue hotline: 024 7771 0386

Bluetongue is a notifiable animal disease. If you suspect it you must report it immediately by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. In Wales, contact 0300 303 8268. In Scotland, contact your local Field Services Office.

What is bluetongue?

Bluetongue (BTV) is a viral disease transmitted by biting midges, which affects all ruminants (e.g. sheep, cattle, goats and deer) and camelids (e.g. llama and alpaca).

What is the latest BTV strain?

A new emerging strain of bluetongue BTV-3 appears to mimic BTV-8 in its behaviour, leading us to be extremely cautious to the risk it poses.

The existing BTV-8 serotype vaccine will not offer cross protection against this new strain.

Advice for farmers

RH&W’s advice to farmers and their vets remains three-fold, farmers need to beware when buying animals in, take action to report any signs, and always, remain vigilant:

  1. Buyer beware, source animals from Europe responsibly and request pre-movement testing.
  2. Take action, prioritise biosecurity and report any suspicious clinical signs.
  3. Vigilance is key, monitor livestock closely.

Temporary control zone (TCZ) – what does that mean?

Anyone in the temporary control zone will be contacted by APHA to explain what this means and any actions you need to take. The main thing to note is that movements of susceptible animals on or off your premises including all movements into and out of the TCZ, must stop, except under licences which may set certain conditions. Keepers can make requests to APHA for licences at

Unless the move relates to an urgent animal welfare issue, please allow at least 5 days for the processing of your licence application for routine animal movements. Complex and high-risk movements will need extra time to process. You must make contingency plans to allow for this and consider what steps you will need to take if the licence cannot be issued or cannot be issued in time.

If a licence is issued, it will normally allow a one-off movement and will be subject to certain conditions based on disease control risk.

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