Tests are underway in Britain to establish the extent of a Bluetongue epidemic after the first ever case was found in a cow in eastern England. The animal has since died from the disease. The virus, which has been slowly spreading from southern Europe, is transmitted by insects such as midges, which have found favourable weather conditions in Britain this summer. It can be highly dangerous for cows and sheep, but cannot be transmitted to humans.
President of the Farmers’ Union Peter Kendall said: “I think it’s too early to say wether it’s going to be devastating. Of course the industry will be incredibly worried. What we need to find out is if it is circulating – if the virus is circulating – how far it has travelled and how quickly we can arrest that movement.”
It marks a fresh setback for the country’s farming industry already hit by the discovery of the more serious foot and mouth disease in recent months. The Bluetongue case was discovered just a day after authorities detected a sixth case of foot and mouth in Surrey in southern England. Authorities are taking it very seriously as it could have very damaging effects on the farming industry if it spreads.