The bluetongue virus has been detected on four sheep farms in North Holland and Utrecht. It is the first time since 2009 that the disease, which poses no threat to humans, has been found in the Netherlands again.
Bluetongue is a disease that only ruminants such as sheep, cattle and goats can get. Since 2012, the Netherlands has had a so-called EU-free status, because our country was bluetongue-free for three years. This made it easier for the Netherlands to export animals. They no longer needed to be vaccinated.
That free status has now expired, outgoing Minister of Agriculture Adema reports in a letter to the House of Representatives. “I understand that there may be concerns about this and I am therefore discussing this with the relevant sectors.” For example, he discusses a suitable vaccine.
“This is a shock for the keepers in question and very annoying for the sick animals,” Adema continues. Source and contact investigations are being carried out and the infected companies are temporarily blocked. “This means that temporarily, except for slaughter, no animals or living products may be removed.”
Insect repellent measures
Bluetongue is spread through midges, a type of mosquito, and not through direct contact between infected animals. “So unfortunately we have to take into account the fact that more positive cases will be found in the coming period,” the minister writes. However, the companies must take insect repellent measures where possible to prevent further spread.
Bluetongue was first detected in the Netherlands in 2006. In May 2008, the first animals were vaccinated against the disease. Animals also became infected in many other countries of the European Union.
Unlike bird flu, bluetongue does not require culling, says Adema. They can get quite sick.
LTO Netherlands mentions, among other things, high fever, swollen lips and tongue, nasal discharge, drooling and red to purple-blue mucous membranes as symptoms in sheep with blue tongue.
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