Bluetongue disease control framework set out – an update from BCVA

Bluetongue disease control framework set out

An update from BCVA

Following the incursion of BTV-3 into the UK in autumn last year, the government has released (23/5/24) a Bluetongue Disease Control framework outlining the strategy should new cases occur in 2024.  

BCVA representatives were involved in the key discussions with Defra, alongside other industry stakeholders, to develop this framework and ensure that the voice of our profession was heard.

Much has been learned since the first detections in the Netherlands, and this, along with modelling and industry stakeholder opinions, have been used to form the basis of this policy. 

There is still a great deal of uncertainty around when, where and indeed if we will see BTV-3 in the UK this year, and so the framework is necessarily flexible to reflect this.

We would encourage colleagues to follow the link to read the full framework and consider what this means for you and your clients. Here is a brief outline of some key points:

  • Vaccination
      • A safe and effective vaccine will be the most effective weapon in long term BTV-3 control
      • Vaccines are available for use on the continent under emergency authorisation BUT NOT in the UK
      • Defra and VMD are working with vaccine manufacturers to license products following safety and efficacy checks but it is unlikely that we will have a vaccine available to use in this years risk period
      • Vaccination in the Netherlands should reduce the infection of midges, hopefully meaning that fewer infected midges find their way to the UK
  • Culling
      • There may be some small-scale culling initially if it is felt that could prevent the disease from becoming established
      • This is likely to be limited and short lived
      • If BTV-3 is shown to have spread and be present in the midge population culling will not be appropriate or effective and will cease
  • Movement restrictions
      • This will be the backbone of the strategy with movement of livestock and germinal products restricted
      • Restriction zones will likely be 20km circles around infected premises
      • Movement will be allowed within zones with minimum restrictions applied
      • Movement ‘to live’ out of zones will be permitted under license and with the animals subject to pre and post movement testing
      • Movement to slaughter will be permitted under general license
      • If BTV-3 is shown to be widespread and circulating in multiple locations restrictions will no longer be effective or proportionate and will be lifted
  • BTV-3 testing
      • Defra is offering free BTV-3 testing to keepers in Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Kent, and East Sussex if moving livestock out of these counties

The exact path taken in deploying the framework will depend on the geography and timing of any outbreak, and we will try to keep you up to date as this situation unfolds.  

For more information, please visit the Ruminant Health and Welfare Groups BTV resource hub at Bluetongue Virus – Ruminant Health & Welfare ( and keep an eye on your inbox for further emails and webinars.