EFSA has published an opinion on the Risk of Bluetongue Transmission in Animal Transit


<div>Bluetongue (BT) is a viral disease of ruminants which is transmitted from one animal to another via the Culicoides midge. In the recently published opinion EFSA’s Panel on animal health and welfare (AHAW) concluded that bluetongue could spread into disease free areas during transit of infectious animals. </div>

The Bluetongue virus (BTV) infection can spread if local midges become infected by biting an animal in transit. It has to be assumed that the infection also could be transmitted through infected midges in the transport vehicles. According to EFSA, the risk of transmission is lower during the periods when the risk of bluetongue vectors occurring is generally low (e.g. January-July) compared to other periods (e.g. August-December).

EFSA concludes that treatment of the transport vehicles and animals with insecticides or repellents before transport might potentially reduce the risk of the virus spreading in transit. Further research is needed on the subject. It is EFSA’s opinion that it would be better to vaccinate animals intended for transit before transport and not only to examine them for the disease.

Bluetongue has not been detected in Finland, but Culicoides midges which could act as vectors for the disease, are found in Finland. Bluetongue is currently found widely in Central Europe. The infectious area closest to Finland is in Southern Sweden. Live animals from elsewhere in Europe are transported via Finland only to Russia. The number of transports is low. It is mostly horses that are transported via Finland, but during the last few years there have also been occasional transports of pigs and ruminants.

In Finland the status of bluetongue is currently being monitored in cattle in the coastal areas, and the disease has not so far been detected. Last year 1677 samples from 340 cattle were examined. In addition, Evira is currently examining whether the Finnish conditions, especially the climate, are such that the virus could spread within the Finnish ruminant population. The report (Bluetongue risk profile) is to be completed by the end of the year.

EFSA’s full report:

For more information, please contact:
Director Taina Aaltonen, tel. 02077 24008, taina.aaltonen at-merkki-kapea.gifevira.fi
Senior Researcher Ulla Rikula, Veterinary Virology, tel. 02077 24585, ulla.rikula at-merkki-kapea.gifevira.fi
Researcher Niina Tammiranta, Risk Assessment, tel. 02077 24028, niina.tammiranta at-merkki-kapea.gifevira.fi

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