Healthcare News

BTV8: Still Out - Let's Keep It Out, UK

July 26, 2017

Vigilance and vaccination remains the key to keeping British livestock free from Bluetongue. This is the message from the national JAB campaign group reminding farmers to protect their animals against disease in 2010.

JAB is issuing a reminder to farmers and livestock keepers to vaccinate their animals against the disease, which is still causing major problems across Europe and as a result farmers in England and Wales still face a very real threat of potential incursions.

A second year free from Bluetongue outbreaks is needed to see the UK declared disease-free and farmers are being urged to keep up their guard and continue with vaccination as part of their regular flock or herd plan.

And there is good news, with new research from the Institute for Animal Health showing that for the first time lambs born to ewes that have been vaccinated twice against BT8 (the 2nd shot being a booster one month before lambing) are protected against the disease for at least 14 weeks - the age at which many lambs go for slaughter.

In a joint statement JAB said:

"We are proud of our success so far in keeping this disease at bay. We are hopeful, that with continued vaccination and vigilance, we can keep Bluetongue out of the country however there is no room for complacency, now is the time to ensure cattle and sheep are protected as an outbreak of bluetongue can have a potentially devastating impact on the economic viability of a livestock farm.

"However the disease is still prevalent in Europe with more than 700 cases reported last year. Anyone importing animals needs to double check the health and vaccination status of their livestock to ensure we keep the disease out. We can not afford to rest on our laurels; vigilance and continued vaccination is key."


1. The research is from the Institute of Animal Health which has shown that for the first time, lambs born to ewes that had been vaccinated twice with inactivated bluetongue (BT) virus type 8 vaccine (the second shot being a booster one month before lambing) were protected against disease for at least 14 weeks, the age at which many lambs go for slaughter. These results are from trials conducted in conjunction with sheep farmers in East Anglia, The booster BT vaccination was given at the same time as clostridial/pasteurella vaccine in November 2008 approximately one month before lambing as this was in line with the wishes of the famers thus affording having to vaccinate on two separate occasions so close to lambing.

2. Defra carried out a survey for all bluetongue virus (BTV) strains, across Great Britain, in November 2009 and found no traces of disease. However, two years of disease-free surveillance are required to be officially classified as 'free', and the whole of Great Britain continues to remain in a protection zone for BTV-8.

3. List of JAB supporters: NFU, National Sheep Association (NSA), National Beef Association (NBA), Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF), British Veterinary Association (BVA), Country Land and Business Association (CLA), Tenant Farmers Association (TFA), Livestock Auctioneers Association (LAA), British Meat Processors Association (BMPA), Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS), Dairy UK, British Cattle Veterinary Association (BCVA), the Institute for Animal Health, and the Sheep Veterinary Society (SVS)

British Veterinary Association