Defra announced the detection of Bluetongue in 18 imported cattle

Bluetongue, the insect borne viral disease, has been detected in 18 imported cattle on premises near Bishop Auckland, in County Durham, England.

The animals originated from Germany, reported the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). They were detected as a result of post-import testing carried on all Bluetongue susceptible animals arriving from the Continent.

This is the fourth incidence of infected animals being imported to the UK.

Alongside other premises in East Sussex, Hertfordshire and Devon identified in August, the imported animals will remain under restrictions.

The whole of England and Wales is now in a Protection Zone and approximately 30m doses of vaccine have so far been made available to farmers throughout England and Wales to protect their stock.

Defra said it may take up to six to eight weeks for livestock keepers in the North of England and Wales to vaccinate their livestock and to gain immunity, which takes at least three weeks in sheep, and six weeks in cattle.

Deputy chief veterinary officer, Alick Simmons said: ‘The threat from Bluetongue is present and real, as shown by the most recent import cases. Vaccination as a preventive measure is therefore more important than ever.’