Bluetongue: What you need to know

05 December 2023

A photo of three cows on a field.

Further cases of bluetongue have been identified in Kent, bringing the total number of cases to six. The original TCZ (temporary control zone) has been extended to a larger area covering North East Kent. Check the latest news and updates on the situation here.

All of the animals associated with the new cases have been humanely culled to reduce the risk of onward transmission. 

Farmers are being asked to be vigilant and, if they spot signs of the disease, to contact their local vet.

For the latest bluetongue virus update, including a series of comprehensive FAQs developed with Defra and industry visit – Bluetongue Virus - Ruminant Health & Welfare

Animal movements

Learn more about the situation, including new information on the licensing of animal movements at: Ruminant Health & Welfare | Latest News

Bluetongue is a notifiable animal disease. If you suspect it you must report it immediately by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. In Wales, contact 0300 303 8268. In Scotland, contact your local Field Services Office. Failure to do so is an offence.

Visit Bluetongue: how to spot and report the disease - GOV.UK.

To apply for a specific licence to move animals in, out or within in a bluetongue disease control zone, visit Bluetongue: apply for a specific movement licence – GOV.UK.

Bluetongue hotline

Farmers and keepers located in or around the control zone can contact the dedicated bluetongue hotline to ask questions or seek advice on the outbreak. The hotline can be reached at 024 7771 0386 on weekdays between 9am and 5pm. 

If you are in the control zone

If you are in the bluetongue TCZ, you may be contacted by telephone to discuss surveillance requirements.

Surveillance is likely to require a visit and sampling of some or all of your animals.

More information on bluetongue, how to spot and report the disease, restrictions within the zone and how to apply for movement licences is available on Bluetongue: how to spot and report the disease.

The Bluetongue Virus - Ruminant Health & Welfare ( is updated daily with resources and information.

The TCZ (temporary control zone) 

Following the first initial case in Kent, Defra introduced a 10km TCZ in the area. Following the confirmation of a case outside of this radius, a larger TCZ was implemented on 4 December 2023. 

The control zone will to enable Defra to undertake enhanced surveillance and restrict movements of susceptible animals in that area.

A map of the area can be seen below. The full declaration can be accessed at: GOV.UK | BTV declaration – North East Kent

To confirm, Ashford market is not outside of the zone.

Keepers in the zone will have received text messages from APHA signposting them to online content with new information on Bluetongue. Messages from APHA have also gone to keepers outside the zones with more generic info. 

 A photo of the Bluetongue Temporary Control Zone area in North East Kent.

Visit Defra Imports, exports and EU trade of animals and animal products: topical issues for more information on trade.

The situation in the EU

Outbreaks of BTV-3 have been reported across The Netherlands, Germany and Belgium.

The Netherlands is the most impacted, with over 1,400 clinically positive cases and over 3,500 PCR positive cases in sheep and cattle as of November 2023.

Four cases have been reported in Belgium, whilst fifteen cases have been reported in Germany. 

Bluetongue virus is a Category C listed disease under EU Animal Health Law.

The impacted Member States are calling for swift development of an effective vaccine for the new strain. 

NFU comment

NFU President Minette Batters said: “We have been informed by Defra of a single case of bluetongue on a farm in Kent over the weekend. A 10km Temporary Control Zone is now in place in the area, alongside surveillance testing and movement restrictions.

“The Chief Veterinary Officer has not confirmed an outbreak as this is only done once they can confirm infected midges are circulating. We are working to support our members in the area and urge farmers to remain vigilant for signs of the disease and get in contact with Defra or the APHA (Animal and Plant Health Agency) if you suspect a case.”

Read more around the net

This page was first published on 27 November 2023. It was updated on 05 December 2023.

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