14 farms may be infected with bluetongue
18 August 2006
AMSTERDAM — Sheep at 14 farms across the Netherlands are possibly infected with the bluetongue disease.
It has already been confirmed that sheep at a farm in Kerkrade in the south of the country have been infected with the disease, which is spread by mosquitoes.
And it is almost certain that sheep are infected at two other farms and there are suspected outbreaks of the disease at 11 other farms.
Agriculture Minister Cees Veerman said it is mystery how the disease took hold in the Netherlands.
The disease is usually only prevalent in countries around the Mediterranean Sea and it is the first time an outbreak has been recorded in the Netherlands.
Veerman has imposed an export ban on all live ruminants and live products from ruminants, such as sperm, egg cells or embryos.
Bluetongue is an insect-borne viral disease affecting all species of ruminant, although sheep are most severely affected. However, the disease does not pose a risk to human health.
Sheep get a blue tongue, inflammation of the mouth and high fever. They can also become lame. Deaths in sheep flocks can be as high as 30 to 40 percent.
A quarantine zone with a radius of 100km has been set up around the farm in Kerkrade and farmers have been advised to keep their animals indoors and to use insecticide. Ruminants are not allowed to leave the area.
Within a radius of 20km from the infected farm, the pick-up or delivery of ruminants has been banned also and the use of insecticides is compulsory.
The Agriculture Ministry is advising horses and pigs — which can be used as feed for the mosquitoes — to be kept inside also.
Agriculture origanisation LTO has labelled the measures as drastic, stressing that an export ban for the south of the nation’s largest rivers had been expected, but not a nation-wide ban. The consequences for the agriculture industry remain difficult to predict.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Dutch news