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Vigilance urged around Bluetongue symptoms

Described as a virus that can have devastating impacts on sheep flocks, farmers attending the Teagasc National Sheep Conference were urged to be vigilant and to make themselves aware of the symptoms of Bluetongue.

Addressing both Teagasc National Sheep Conferences in Roscommon and Donegal recently, Seamus Fagan of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s Regional Veterinary Laboratory in Athlone said that the virus – which is often transmitted by midges – has had devastating impacts on the sheep industry in the Netherlands. To prevent similar from happening in Ireland ‘being able to identify it really early is what will stop it from becoming a major issue’.
Seamus told the conference: “We all have the responsibility to upskill ourselves and learn about Bluetongue in the next few months.” The clinical signs of blue tongue include: 

  • Loss or lack of appetite; 
  • Drop in milk yield;
  • Reddening of the mucus membranes;
  • Sores on the nose, gums and dental pads;
  • Swelling of the face, lips and tongue;
  • Breathing difficulties if the tongue swells;
  • Drooling;
  • Discharge from the eyes and/or nose;
  • Lameness;
  • Abortion, stillbirth or deformities in offspring;
  • Possible death.

Although not an issue in Ireland currently, Seamus reminded farmers to remain vigilant and to query cases they are not sure of by speaking to their vet or local regional veterinary office. Farmers were also reminded to understand the disease risks if importing animals and to avoid importing animals when midges that spread Bluetongue are most active.