Bluetongue restrictions have been widened for Norfolk livestock farmers after more cattle were found to be infected with the dangerous animal disease. 

Defra confirmed at the weekend that two cattle on a holding near Norwich had caught bluetongue - a potentially fatal virus affecting ruminants including cattle, sheep, goats, deer and camelids.

Four more cases were confirmed on Monday, bringing the county's total to 25 cases since the first infected animals were found on a farm near Cantley in the Broads on December 8.

That initial discovery sparked the creation of a 10km temporary control zone (TCZ) to focus surveillance efforts and enforce restrictions on livestock movements to stop the disease spreading.

All of Norfolk's recent cases were found within that zone, but Defra says the two animals identified on Saturday were grazing on land just outside it during the high-risk period - so the TCZ has been slightly extended towards Norwich.

Eastern Daily Press: Norfolk's bluetongue temporary control zone (TCZ) was extended on January 27Norfolk's bluetongue temporary control zone (TCZ) was extended on January 27 (Image: Defra)

Unlike the previous cases, the six most recently-diagnosed animals will not be culled, but will instead be "restricted at their current locations and disease mitigation measures will be taken," says Defra, adding: "This reflects a recent reduction in the midge activity, reducing the risk of onward transmission."

READ MORE: Norfolk bluetongue meeting hears livestock farmers' concerns

It is believed the disease was carried to Norfolk - and to the other bluetongue zone in Kent - by infected midges, blown across the Channel from Europe during optimum wind and temperature conditions in September or October.

In the right weather conditions and temperatures, the disease can be spread between animals by biting midges - although animal health officials say there is still no evidence of the disease circulating in this way in the UK.

But the precautionary measures in the TCZ are causing disruption and uncertainty for livestock farms, as specific licences are now needed to move animals out of the zone, which are only permitted where there is an "urgent and genuine welfare need”, or to go directly to slaughter at a designated abattoir.

Defra says bluetongue does not affect human health or food safety, but livestock keepers must report suspicions of the virus immediately to the APHA on 03000 200 301.

For more information and advice, see the bluetongue pages at, visit Ruminant Health and Welfare’s dedicated bluetongue web page, or call the bluetongue advice hotline on 024 7771 0386.