The animal health industry plays a key role in livestock protection as a provider of tools to help prevent, control and manage animal diseases affecting Europe’s farming community. Thanks to these tools (vaccines and medicines) Europe has been successful in managing animal diseases such as salmonella, bluetongue or foot and mouth disease which just years ago posed serious threats to animal health, food safety and public health.
The industry remains acutely aware of future critical challenges however and strives to continue developing advanced solutions that protect both animal and human health. Below you will find links to a number of fact sheets outlining some of the successes experienced thanks to animal health products.
Bluetongue is a viral disease that affects ruminants, especially sheep. It can also affect cattle, goats, camels, deer and other wild ruminants. It has been named after one of the symptoms that can occur in the animal, which is a bluish coloration of the tongue. Sheep are particularly susceptible to more serious forms of the disease, whereas the infection is often less damaging in other ruminants such as cattle and goats.
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 can only take place via bites from certain species of Culicoides midges and is not transmitted by direct or indirect contact between animals.
24 serotypes of the virus are currently known to science, each of which can have differing virulence and mortality rates. The way it can be transmitted and the susceptible species are continually being investigated by scientists.
Bluetongue causes direct economic loss through disease and mortality, loss of productivity, loss of milk yield, abortion and loss of fertility.
In 2008, a total of 45,000 outbreaks were reported across the EU. That number dropped to 1,118 in 2009, 176 in 2010 and to 39 in 2011 through prevention and control measures including the use of vaccines.
Several animal health companies have developed and marketed vaccines against various virus types of the disease including serotypes 1, 2, 4, 8 and 9. Vaccines and vaccination programmes contribute to the prevention and control of bluetongue. Vaccination is also used to permit safe trade in live ruminants based on EU legislation and in accordance with OIE standards.