Bluetongue rides on climate change.

Institute for Animal Health

Bluetongue has hit the UK right when we didn’t need it. Foot & mouth is bad enough but the two combined are potentially devastating. Put this on top of increased feed prices, led by higher wheat and fuel costs and we have a recipe for returning meat back to a luxury product.

Bluetongue is a devastating viral disease of ruminants, such as sheep and cattle. In August 2006, Dutch authorities reported the first ever case of bluetongue in Northern Europe. The disease subsequently spread to over 2,000 herds, mostly in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany.

Collaborative work between the Institute and TALA Research (Oxford University) has provided strong evidence of the role of climate change in the expansion of bluetongue within Europe since 1998 [4], and the Institute has also performed extensive theoretical work on the mechanisms by which climate may be affecting transmission [5]. Institute researchers also recently described a novel mechanism for the virus to conceal itself within host immune cells [6], which may offer some insight into the puzzling ability of the virus to reappear in areas after long period of absence and without any apparent reintroduction event.

More information from the Institute for Animal Health.

Hold onto your seats folks. We’re in for a bumpy ride.

Note, bluetongue is not transferable to humans. However, they may have a blue tongue for entirely different reasons, normally self inflicted!


[4]. Purse, B. V., Mellor, P. S., et al (2005) “Climate change and the recent emergence of bluetongue in Europe” Nature Reviews Microbiology 3: 171-181.
[5]. Wittman, E., & Baylis, M. (2000) “Climate change: effects on Culicoides-transmitted viruses and implications for the UK” The Veterinary Journal 160: 107-117.
[6]. Takamatsu, H., Mellor, P. S., et al (2003) “A possible overwintering mechanism for bluetongue virus in the absence of the insect vector” Journal of General Virology 84: 227-235.

This entry was posted in Academia, Climate change, Disease, EU, Food & Agriculture, Health, Rural communities. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Bluetongue rides on climate change.

  1. Pete Smith says:

    Bluetongue is a bastard disease, causing a great deal of distress to animals. In extreme cases it can affect the joints and cause them to rupture. On the continent they haven’t been culling as a matter of course, partly because of the disease’s method of transmission and partly because animals can recover. Infected cattle are generally less severely affected than sheep, but interestingly there are more cases reported in cattle than in sheep, perhaps because sheep are better insulated against the midges’ bites.
    Farmers are now praying for a spell of cold weather to kill off the midges.

  2. Pete Smith says:

    I see nothing wrong in principle in meat becoming a “luxury product”, it’s become too cheap on the back of industrial agriculture and energy inputs.
    We could all do with a few meatless days a week.

  3. earthpal says:

    The onset of Winter should help (if it’s a proper Winter!!) as it will kill off the midges. But in the meantime, as Pete implied, a few random but regular days of forced vegetariansism won’t hurt.

    Matt, that little guy in the picture … what on earth has he been eating? It doesn’t look natural. Lol.

  4. earthpal says:

    Oops! Sorry Pete. I missed your last sentence there about the midges and cold weather. Always in a rush I am.

  5. matt says:

    A lot of things should be had less more … allowing a different mind set to return but, under differing circumstances. How’s that for a confusing scentence!

    Taking meat as an example (for those that indulge), paying more for a few choice cuts a week as was once done, because finances would only stretch that far, would do wonders for people’s health today. More disposable income and cheaper food have meant many of us indulge in all things continuously; snacks, puddings, fast foods, fatty foods, alcohol, sweets etc. Greed leads to fat tummies and heart attacks.

    I’d say earthpal that the little fella in the linked pic has indulged in hyper e-numbers! 🙂

Comments are closed.