Bluetongue is a notifiable insect-borne viral disease.

First published:
16 November 2018
Last updated:

All species of ruminants can catch it. It does not affect humans and is not present in Great Britain but is endemic in France.

Suspicion and confirmation

Contact your local Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) office immediately on 0300 303 8268 if you suspect Bluetongue.

APHA vets will investigate suspected cases.

Clinical signs

The following clinical signs may be present in sheep:

  • ulcers in the mouth
  • mucus discharge form the nose and mouth
  • swelling of the mouth, head, neck and coronary band (where the skin of the leg meets the horn of the foot)

The following clinical signs may be present in cattle:

  • swelling and ulcers in the mouth
  • nasal discharge
  • red skin and eyes due to blood collecting at the surface
  • swollen teats
  • tiredness

Bluetongue in calves

Bluetongue can be transmitted to a foetus from an infected pregnant animal. This leads to calves being born small and blind, causing them to die within a few days of birth.

The BTV-8 strain of bluetongue circulating in France is likely to cause fewer clinical signs in adult cattle. But it will cause more instances of clinical problems in calves.

Livestock keepers should consider bluetongue as a cause for malformed calves.

Transmission and prevention

Midges carry the bluetongue virus. The disease spreads when infected midges bite an animal affected by the disease. The weather (especially temperature and wind direction) affects how the disease can spread.

You can help to prevent the disease by practicing good biosecurity on your premises.