Three more Bluetongue cases confirmed

Three more cases of bluetongue disease have been confirmed in East Anglia, said Defra officials yesterday.It brings the total number of cases in Suffolk and Essex to 41 and sheep in several flocks have become infected by midges carrying the virus.

Three more cases of bluetongue disease have been confirmed in East Anglia, said Defra officials yesterday.

It brings the total number of cases in Suffolk and Essex to 41 and sheep in several flocks have become infected by midges carrying the virus.

The majority of cases have been found in cattle, including several cases near Lowestoft, although the Ipswich area - where the first case of bluetongue was identified on September 22 - remains the confirmed cluster.

The first case of bluetongue has also been confirmed in Denmark as the virus has spread further into northern Europe.

It was found in a sheep flock on the Danish island of Lolland and takes the EU total of animals infected by bluetongue to 23,500 since August 2006.

A suspected case of foot-and-mouth disease in a sheep flock at Rye, East Sussex, was under investigation yesterday.

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Officials imposed a 3km temporary control zone around the holding as sheep showed signs of disease.

A Defra spokesman said laboratory tests were under way to determine whether the disease has spread but there was no timetable for receiving the results.

He said: “Animal keepers are urged to remain vigilant for disease, check their animals twice a day and report any suspicions immediately.”

If confirmed, it would be the first confirmed case of foot- and-mouth outside Surrey since the summer.

There have been eight cases of foot-and-mouth since the first outbreak in cattle at Pirbright, Surrey, on August 3.

Livestock farmers in the bluetongue control zone, which covers most of Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex, were allowed to start moving animals outside the protection zone covering most of eastern England from today.

Experts believe bluetongue was carried into England by midges blown across the sea from the European coast in a plume on August 4, which is thought to come up the Orwell estuary.

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