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Bluetongue

Restriction zones - Vaccination - Trans-placental transmission - Bluetongue serotypes 6 and 11 - Description - Questions & Answers - Situation in the EU Member States - Control measures - Seasonally vector free period - Notification and Health Situation - Bluetongue monitoring and surveillance - Community Reference Laboratory - BT Scientific Conference [NEW]

Restriction zones established by the Member States

Council Directive 2000/75/EC lays down control rules and measures to combat bluetongue in the Community, including the establishment of protection and surveillance zones and a ban on animals of the susceptible species leaving those zones. Exemptions from that ban may de decided by the Commission in accordance with the procedure provided for in that Directive. The demarcation of protection and surveillance zones must take account of geographical, administrative, ecological and epizootiological factors connected with bluetongue and of the control arrangements. In order to take account of those factors, it was deemed necessary to lay down rules as regards the minimum harmonised requirements for monitoring and surveillance of bluetongue in the Community.

To address this issues Commission Regulation (EC) No 1266/2007 of 26 October 2007 on implementing rules for Council Directive 2000/75/EC as regards the control, monitoring, surveillance and restrictions on movements of certain animals of susceptible species in relation to bluetongue has been adopted. According to Article 6.4 of the above mentioned Regulation, Member States shall draw up and keep updated a list of the restricted zones in their territory and make it available to the other Member States and to the public and article 6. 5 establishes that the Commission shall publish, for information purposes only, on its website the updated list of restricted zones.

The list of restriction zones per bluetongue serotype that have been demarcated by the EU Member States can be found in the following table:

A map showing the location of the restriction zones has been prepared:

This map and the table are updated on a regular basis.

Vaccination

Commission Decision 2008/655/EC pdf of 24 July 2008 approves the vaccination plans against bluetongue of Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Luxemburg, the Netherlands and Portugal and establishes the maximum amount of the Community financial contribution for the year 2008.

This Decision has been amended by Commission Decision 2009/19/EC, approving the newly submitted vaccination plans of Austria and Sweden and the amended plans of Denmark, Spain, France, the Netherlands and Portugal, thus establishing new maximum amounts of the Community financial contribution for these Member States.

Information on the Conference organised in Brussels on 16 January 2008 in the Charlemagne building can be found here

Trans-placental transmission of bluetongue virus

In the light of new scientific information recently gathered on bluetongue virus pathogenesis related to the possible trans-placental transmission of bluetongue, some precautionary measures were taken to prevent the possible spread of the disease by pregnant animals or certain newborn animals Regulation (EC) No 384/2008

A working group held on 30/4/08 reviewed the most recent information gathered by the Member States on this issue

According to the Scientific Opinion of the Panel on Animal Health and Welfare of the EFSA on bluetongue serotype 8 (EFSA Journal 2011; 9(6): 2192), there is no evidence that transplacental transmission of the bluetongue virus of other serotypes than 8 occurs in affected areas where no modified live vaccines have been used. In the light of the conclusions of that opinion, the precautionary measure as regards the movement of pregnant animals now applies only for zones which are restricted for bluetongue virus serotype 8. Regulation (EC) 456/2012

Bluetongue serotypes 6 and 11 vaccine-like strains circulation

The Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health made the following statement on 04.03.2009:

At the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health of 4 March 2009, the Netherlands and Germany presented the results of their surveillance and other investigations into bluetongue virus type 6 (BTV6). In October and November 2008, the Netherlands and Germany reported laboratory findings of BTV6 circulation in cattle located in neighbouring parts of their territories with very little, if any clinical signs of bluetongue disease. The detection was a result of routine bluetongue surveillance. There was an immediate investigation by the Community Emergency Veterinary Team and the affected Member States have followed its recommendations. Movement restrictions similar to those applicable in a bluetongue outbreak have been applied as a precautionary measure while the investigations were in progress.

Information on the genetic sequence available from the virus isolates indicates a high similarity with the BTV6 South African modified live vaccine. This virus may have circulated to a limited extent in the local midge vector population. No bluetongue clinical disease has been observed in the field or under experimental conditions. The results of these investigations suggest that no virulent BTV6 virus strain has circulated in the Netherlands or Germany, while the positive findings are most likely to be ascribed to the use of a modified live vaccine.

On the basis of the assessment of these data the Netherlands and Germany have therefore concluded that further continuation of precautionary measures with regards to restrictions on trade are not justified and they will be lifted as of 5 March 2009. However, strengthened surveillance will continue and control measures may be applied if there is evidence of further virus circulation in the 2009 vector season or if a virulent strain is detected.

Belgium reported a similar situation with respect to circulation of bluetongue virus type 11 (BTV11). Information on the genetic sequence available indicates a high similarity with the reference strain that was used to produce the South African modified live vaccine for BTV-11. The epidemiological situation has been assessed. No virus has been isolated and no clinical signs of bluetongue disease have been observed. In view of this, the precautionary measures in the temporary control zones currently in force will be lifted as of 5 March. Similarly to the Netherlands and Germany, strengthened surveillance will continue and control measures may be applied if there is evidence of further virus circulation in the 2009 vector season or if a virulent strain is detected.


Bluetongue serotype 14 vaccine-like strain circulation

National Bluetongue monitoring programmes and pre-movement testing in late 2012 have led to the findings of Bluetongue positive animals in the north-eastern part of the EU (Lithuania, Latvia, Poland and Estonia). Clinical signs were not observed.

The EU reference laboratory for Bluetongue at The Pirbright Institute, UK identified the virus as Bluetongue serotype 14 (BTV-14) which is known to have been circulating in the western part of Russia for at least two years, as shown by information provided by the Russian reference laboratory in Pokrov at the annual meeting of the bluetongue reference laboratories in December 2012.

Further sequencing data from the EU reference laboratory suggest the circulation of the BTV-14 reference or vaccine strain from South Africa (which are identical in the regions analysed) into the field, possibly indicating the use of a live attenuated BTV-14 vaccine in the field. The similarities of the sequencing results for genome segment 2 of different samples (Russia 2011, Spain 2011 (from a calf that originated in Poland), Poland 2012 and Latvia 2012) indicate that the strains are derived from a common source and suggest spread of the vaccine-like virus in the field.

As regards measures to be taken, the EU is applying the same principles used when a similar vaccine incident was detected with circulation of vaccine strains in 2008-2009 for the Netherlands, Germany (both BTV-6) and Belgium (BTV-11) (see above). The affected Member States have taken precautionary measures, awaiting the outcome of the EU reference laboratory results and have increased surveillance on their territory.

Detailed epidemiological reports on the BTV14 vaccine strain situation have been presented to the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCFCAH) by Lithuania, Latvia, Poland and Estonia. Summary reports and a link to presentations can be found on the website of the SCFCAH.

Reports from EU reference laboratory for Bluetongue (The Pirbright Institute, UK)

Description

Bluetongue is a non-contagious, insect-transmitted, viral disease of domestic and wild ruminants. It is not known to affect humans.

Disease characteristics
The disease is characterised by inflammation of the mucous membranes, congestion, swelling and haemorrhages. Sheep are generally the worst affected, while cattle and goats do not usually show any clinical signs of disease and can carry the virus for a certain period of time and transmit it to other ruminants.

Transmission
Transmission takes place via bite of certain species of Culicoides midges, which are biological vectors. It is not transmitted by direct or indirect contact between animals in the absence of the insects.

Sources of virus
Infected Culicoides.

Occurrence
The virus is present in a broad band of countries extending approximately between 40°N and 35°S. The bluetongue virus has been shown by serology to be present in regions where the Culicoides is present (e.g. Africa, the Americas, Australia, the Middle East and some countries of southern Asia and Oceania).

Bluetongue situation in the EU has considerably changed in recent times with incursions of new serotypes, namely of serotype 8 (in an area of the Community where outbreaks have never been reported before and which was not considered at risk of bluetongue) and also of serotype 1 of that virus on southern Europe.

Bluetongue can cause spectacular disease outbreaks and is an OIE (Office International des Epizooties) listed disease.

For more details, click on the OIE technical card on Bluetongue.

Questions & Answers on Bluetongue

Read the Questions & Answers on Bluetongue

View the infoclip on Bluetongue Virus

Bluetongue situation in the EU Member States

The Commission carries out continuous monitoring of the evolution of bluetongue and takes actions when appropriate to minimize the impact of the disease in the Community.

All presentations given during the meetings of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health can be found here (for 2006, see the summary reports for links to the presentations).

EFSA

EFSA has provided scientific assistance to the Commission. The scientific opinions and scientific reports issued by EFSA in relation to Bluetongue can be found in the EFSA webpages.

Control measures established by the Member States

Council Directive 2000/75/EC lays down specific provisions for the control and eradication of Bluetongue. The measures to control and eradicate the disease include vectors control, (use of insecticides in the animal premises and in the areas where these insects live, insect repellents onto animals, mosquitoes nets, etc.), restriction to movements of live ruminants from affected areas to non-infected regions where the vector is present and the use of vaccines.

Implementation measures of Directive 2000/75/EC are established on Commission Regulation (EC) No 1266/2007 that replaced Commission Decision 2005/393/EC. This Commission Regulation provides for a more sustainable strategy for the control and eradication of Bluetongue, including the conditions for exemptions for the exit ban applicable to movements of susceptible animals and their semen, ova and embryos.

Vector protected establishment for Bluetongue

Implementing Regulation 456/2012 amending Commission Regulation (EC) No 1266/2007 introduces a new Annex II with criteria for the vector protected establishment based on the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code (2011). When the draft amending Regulation was presented for a vote in the SCoFCAH of 3 April 2012, a number of representatives from Member States requested for a technical working group for the implementation of the vector protected establishment, with the aim to produce a guidance document. In response to this request the Commission organised a technical working group on 8 May 2012 to facilitate the discussions on the vector protected establishment and to gather existing information and experiences.

This Guidance document is based on the input sent by Member States and the outcomes of discussions. In addition, passages were taken from the EFSA's Scientific Opinion on "bluetongue vectors and insecticides”.

This document does not represent the official views of the Commission Services and should therefore not be considered as an "EU protocol for the implementation of a vector protected establishment" for bluetongue (nor for any other vector-borne diseases).

Seasonally vector free period

The bluetongue seasonally vector free period' means a seasonal period as defined in Annex V in an epidemiological relevant geographical area during which, for a part of the year, there is no evidence of bluetongue virus transmission or adult Culicoides likely to be competent vectors."

Overview seasonally vector free periods 2013-2014 pdf [Updated 19-05-2014]
Overview seasonally vector free periods 2012-2013 pdf [Updated 13-06-2013]
Overview seasonally vector free periods 2011-2012 pdf [Updated 01-06-2012]
Overview seasonally vector free periods 2010-2011 pdf [Updated 14-04-2011]
Overview seasonally vector free periods 2009-2010 pdf [Updated 27-07-2010]
Overview seasonally vector free periods 2008-2009 pdf

Import controls

Measures have been adopted to control the importations of live animals and their products from third countries affected by a Bluetongue outbreak on their territory Commission Decision 2003/845/EC.

Notification and Health Situation

Bluetongue is a notifiable disease, according to Council Directive 82/894/EEC EEC of 21 December 1982 on the notification of animal diseases within the Community.

Click on ADNS for a description of the notification system and the latest health situation table.

A video describing the the evolution of the bluetongue outbreaks from 2006 to 2012 can be found here.

Bluetongue monitoring and surveillance

Commission Regulation (EC) No 1266/2007 introduces the obligation for the Member States to carry out bluetongue monitoring and surveillance programmes aimed at detecting any possible incursions of the bluetongue virus, demonstrating the absence of certain serotypes (when appropriate) or determining the seasonally vector free period through entomological surveillance.

Community Reference Laboratory

The Community reference laboratory (CRL) for bluetongue is the Institute for Animal Health in Pirbright. http://www.iah.bbsrc.ac.uk

Press Releases

Read the Press Releases

BT Scientific Conference

The IV International Conference on Bluetongue and related Orbiviruses, will be held in Rome on 5-7 November 2014. More information is available here.