FARMERS have been urged to remain alert after two new cases of bluetongue virus (BTV) were identified in Kent.

Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss confirmed two further cows had tested positive, now taking the number of cattle testing positive for the disease since November 11 to seven.

A 10km control zone was first introduced in November and this has now been replaced to by a much larger area, including parts of Canterbury, Folkestone and Hythe, Dover, and Thanet districts.

It was brought into effect from 8pm on December 4 after being authorised by Defra secretary Steve Barclay.

The temporary control zone means farmers cannot move cattle, sheep, goats, deer or camelids to or from premises in the zone, unless a licence is issued by a veterinary inspector.

Both cases are linked to a holding with previously confirmed cases of bluetongue serotype 3 (BTV-3).

“These two animals were, until recently, grazing on a premises just outside the TCZ, so as a result, the TCZ has been extended to cover the North and East coasts of Kent”, says Dr Joseph Henry BVMS Cert SHP MRCVS, chair of the Ruminant Health & Welfare (RH&W) bluetongue working group and president of the Sheep Veterinary Society.

“The TCZ is being extended slightly to ensure effective surveillance and minimise the spread of the disease as to-date, as it’s clear the surveillance program is working, so we must continue to support it.

“It’s in the industry’s interest to get this testing done as quickly as possible so that we can resume normal trade and we really hope farmers help in facilitating this.

“All of the additional confirmed cases have been on holdings within the TCZ that surrounds the original case found near Canterbury, Kent on November 11 –all cases have been or will be humanely culled to minimise any risk of onward transmission,” explains Dr Henry.

“There continues to be no evidence of circulating virus in the UK midge population and with the overall temperature continuing to drop, the risk of midge disease transmission is ever reducing,” says Dr Henry.