Navigation path

Themes
Agriculture & food
  Agriculture
  Animal health and welfare
  Food safety & health risks
  Forestry
  Marine resources & aquaculture
  Other
Energy
Environment
ERA-NET
Health & life sciences
Human resources & mobility
Industrial research
Information society
Innovation
International cooperation
Nanotechnology
Pure sciences
Research infrastructures
Research policy
Science & business
Science in society
Security
SMEs
Social sciences and humanities
Space
Special Collections
Transport

Countries
Countries
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czech Republic
  Denmark
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Finland
  France
  Georgia
  Germany
  Ghana
  Greece
  Hungary
  Iceland
  India
  Ireland
  Israel
  Italy
  Jamaica
  Japan
  Kazakhstan
  Kenya
  Korea
  Latvia
  Lithuania
  Luxembourg
  Malta
  Mexico
  Morocco
  Netherlands
  Nigeria
  Norway
  Peru
  Poland
  Portugal
  Romania
  Russia
  Senegal
  Serbia
  Slovakia
  Slovenia
  South Africa
  Spain
  Sri Lanka
  Swaziland
  Sweden
  Switzerland
  Taiwan
  Tunisia
  Turkey
  Uganda
  Ukraine
  United Kingdom
  United States


This page was published on 24/04/2009
Published: 24/04/2009

   Headlines

Last Update: 24-04-2009  
Related category(ies):
Agriculture & food  |  Environment

 

Add to PDF "basket"

Livestock face climate change quagmire

An alarm has sounded on how global warming could impact European livestock. Speaking to members of the Society for General Microbiology (SGM) recently, Professor Peter Mertens from the Institute for Animal Health (IAH) in the UK cautioned that ruminants have been dealt major blows within the last decade, triggered by the rising temperatures on Earth.

Livestock is at risk © Shutterstock
Livestock is at risk
© Shutterstock

More than two million ruminants, especially sheep, have fallen victim to outbreaks of bluetongue (BT) in Europe since 1998 and experts believe the rising temperatures are responsible for this problem. Sparked by the Bluetongue virus serotype (BTV-8), the outbreak reared its ugly head in Belgium and the Netherlands in 2006, and then spread to other European countries such as the UK the year after.

The experts note this outbreak, which was the first ever recorded in northern Europe, was not an isolated event. Concerns over related viruses emerging have grown. For example, the African horse sickness virus shares the same insect vectors as Bluetongue, and can prove fatal in over 95% of cases.

'We have seen outbreaks caused by 12 strains, from 9 distinct serotypes of bluetongue virus, which have arrived in Europe via at least 4 different routes since 1998,' explained Professor Mertens. 'This indicates that there has been a fundamental shift in bluetongue epidemiology, linked to climate change.'

Last year, the UK vaccinated more than 10 million sheep and cows against BTV-8. 'The UK was the only country in Europe to successfully suppress the disease outbreak,' Professor Mertens noted. 'However, different BT virus types have subsequently arrived in northern Europe which represent further threats to the UK for 2009 and beyond.'

Based on what has occurred in recent years, the entire region is vulnerable to further incursions of the BT virus and other insect transmitted viruses, he said, adding that these viruses could wreak havoc on human lives as well.

'Although the vaccines against BT virus currently available for use in northern Europe are relatively crude, as they are made from inactivated virus grown in tissue culture cells, it is clear that they can work against BTV-8,' the scientist told the SGM members. 'However, more advanced vaccines, made from the protein-subunits of the virus, along with diagnostic tests that can distinguish vaccinated from infected animals, are urgently needed.'

The biting midge Culicoides imicola is responsible for spreading bluetongue, and it recently colonised the northern Mediterranean coast, which triggered outbreaks in the affected regions. It should be noted, however, that other vector species of midge, such as C. pulicaris and C obsoletus, also contribute to BT outbreaks. These two have surfaced in central and northern Europe.

The experts state that rising temperatures can increase the rate of infection and virus replication in the midge, effectively intensifying their activity in northern Europe.

Established in 1945, the Society for General Microbiology is comprised of academia, government agencies, research centres and industry from over 60 nations worldwide.


Convert article(s) to PDF

No article selected


loading


Search articles

Notes:
To restrict search results to articles in the Information Centre, i.e. this site, use this search box rather than the one at the top of the page.

After searching, you can expand the results to include the whole Research and Innovation web site, or another section of it, or all Europa, afterwards without searching again.

Please note that new content may take a few days to be indexed by the search engine and therefore to appear in the results.

Print Version
Share this article
See also

Institute for Animal Health
Society for General Microbiology
'Bluetongue moves north'





  Top   Research Information Center