What is Bluetongue?
Bluetongue is a non-contagious, insect-transmitted, viral disease of domestic and wild ruminants. At present 24 serotypes of the virus are recognised. The virulence and mortality rate of the different virus strains vary considerably. The one recently discovered in Northern European countries in August was Serotype 8 previously notified in South Africa and India.
Does Bluetongue pose any threat to public health or food safety?
Bluetongue does not affect humans, nor is there any risk of the disease being contracted or spread through meat or milk.
When did the Bluetongue outbreak begin in Northern Europe?
The Bluetongue disease is normally confined to the more southern parts of Europe such as the Balearic Islands, Sardinia, Sicily, Corsica and some areas of Italy, Spain, France and Portugal. In August 2006, the first ever outbreak above the 50°N parallel was reported by the Dutch authorities. This was followed by reports from Belgium, Germany and France of new outbreaks.
What is EFSA’s involvement in the Bluetongue outbreak in Northern Europe?
While EFSA is closely following up the development of the situation by collecting all data and information related to the disease, it is not involved in risk management activities. EFSA’s role as an organization is to provide scientific support and expertise on the disease to EU authorities specifically the European Commission and Member States. The EFSA Animal Health and Welfare (AHAW) Panel met on 7th and 8th September 2006 to discuss the latest developments and agreed to provide a preliminary scientific note for the Commission and Member States. This note highlights the need for a better understanding of the current situation which would benefit from contributions by all the Member States affected by Bluetongue and which have conducted risk assessments as a result of outbreaks. Therefore EFSA has asked Member States to work with it in collecting data and sharing risk assessments on the recent Bluetongue outbreaks. This co-operation will allow an integrated and comprehensive European approach in order to better understand the dynamics and spreading patterns of this disease.
What is the Commission’s role in the Bluetongue outbreak?
The European Commission is responsible for risk management. This means it is involved, through coordination with Member States, in managing and containing the disease through control measures, monitoring, etc.
For more information, on its activities see the links below:
Bluetongue and the European Commission (including press releases, Q&A, control measures in place): http://ec.europa.eu/food/animal/diseases/controlmeasures/bluetongue_en.htm
Animal Diseases: http://ec.europa.eu/food/animal/diseases/index_en.htm
Control Measures: http://ec.europa.eu/food/animal/diseases/controlmeasures/index_en.htm