Bluetongue resurgenceSince December 2018, bluetongue disease (BT) has been present in Germany for the first time in nine years.
© Eye area of a cow suffering from bluetongue © BMEL
Due to findings of the disease in Baden-Wurttemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland, a restriction zone has been set up that covers the three aforementioned states in their entirety and also parts of Bavaria, Hesse and North Rhine-Westphalia. Live ruminants and semen, ova and embryos from these animals may not be moved from this zone, or may only be moved under certain conditions. Vaccination of ruminants against bluetongue is possible; the authorities strongly advise owners of cattle, sheep and goats to make use of this option. Bluetongue is not dangerous to humans or non-ruminants.
Germany has been in force since 15.2.In 2012, bluetongue was declared free of the disease, after it first appeared in cattle and small ruminants in Central Europe in 2006 and spread rapidly to Germany. The rapid introduction of compulsory vaccination with inactivated vaccines succeeded in eradicating the disease at that time.
Spread of the disease
In August 2006, bluetongue virus serotype 8 (BTV-8) was detected in Germany for the first time. It spread over a large part of Germany in 2007 and 2008. The entire federal territory has been designated as a BTV-8 restriction zone.
The reason for the introduction of the BT virus from warmer regions to Central Europe is unclear. However, entomological (insectological) surveys have shown that gnat species known to be vectors of the BT virus also occur in Germany and can be detected throughout the year.
In 2008 and 2009, vaccination against BTV-8 was carried out in Germany with inactivated vaccines. The vaccination obligation applied to cattle, sheep and goats. Wild ruminants in gates could be vaccinated on a voluntary basis. To the 1.1.In 2010, the vaccination obligation was lifted; there was a possibility for voluntary vaccination of the mentioned animal species.
Extensive surveys of cattle, sheep, goats and, to a lesser extent, wild ruminants have been carried out as part of a monitoring program established in 2007. As part of the monitoring carried out since 2010 with a total of around 110.000 samples, no evidence of circulation of the BT virus in Germany was found.
Vaccination strategy successful
The emergence of an animal disease previously known only from warmer regions than Germany has attracted the attention of all stakeholders such as z.B. of animal keepers and competent authorities for exceptional disease symptoms increased. Under certain circumstances, other species that were previously considered "exotic" may also have been identified in Germany to be counted on in the event of a recurrence of the disease.
Consistent application of a national vaccination strategy has led to the rapid disappearance of bluetongue in Germany. Monitoring of susceptible animals will continue to be carried out in order to control the absence of BT in Germany and to be able to react quickly in case of a reoccurrence of the disease.