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Bluetongue Disease

Volume 481: debated on Monday 20 October 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what strains of (a) avian influenza and (b) bluetongue were confirmed in the UK in each of the last three years; where such cases occurred; and how many animals were slaughtered in each case, broken down by region. (227326)

The information is as follows:

(a) Avian Influenza

Type of Avian Influenza/location

Animals culled

May 2006

Low pathogenic H7N3 in chickens in Dereham, Norfolk


February 2007

H5N1 (highly pathogenic) in turkeys at Bernard Matthews plant in Suffolk


May/June 2007

Low pathogenic H7N2 in Wales and Merseyside


November 2007

H5N1 (highly pathogenic) on two premises near Diss, Norfolk


January/February 2008

H5N1 (highly pathogenic) confirmed in 11 wild birds in the Chesil Beach area in Dorset


June 2008

H7N7 (highly pathogenic) avian influenza confirmed on a premises near Banbury in Oxfordshire


1 Cases were in wild not domestic birds.

(b) Bluetongue

Bluetongue virus serotype 8 (BTV-8) is the only strain of Bluetongue virus to have been detected in the UK to date. The first case was detected on 22 September 2007.

As at 16 October 2008, a total of 147 cases of BTV-8 had been detected. These are shown in the following table, by UK region, for the last three years:







Northern Ireland




1 No circulating Bluetongue disease has been found in the UK in 2008. The 80 cases confirmed this year in England comprise 73 that involve animals infected in 2007 but confirmed as infected in 2008, and seven that were detected through post-import tests on livestock imported from abroad. 2 This case was detected as a result of post-import testing.

A total of six infected animals were culled in England in 2007 prior to 28 September 2007.

On 28 September 2007, it was confirmed that BTV-8 was circulating in the local midge population in the affected area of East Anglia. Since Bluetongue is spread by midges, the culling of animals infected by Bluetongue would no longer have been an effective measure to control disease spread, and in line with the Bluetongue Control Strategy, the decision was taken not to slaughter further infected animals.