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 , and the Institute has also performed extensive theoretical work on the mechanisms by which climate may be affecting transmission . Institute researchers also recently described a novel mechanism for the virus to conceal itself within host immune cells , 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!
. 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.
. Wittman, E., & Baylis, M. (2000) “Climate change: effects on Culicoides-transmitted viruses and implications for the UK” The Veterinary Journal 160: 107-117.
. 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.