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Blue tongue disease hits Swedish farm

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Blue tongue disease hits Swedish farm
08:43 CEST+02:00
Two animals infected with blue tongue disease have been destroyed, as Sweden's agricultural ministry gears up to prevent a wider outbreak of the feared livestock disease.

A total of 81 municipalities are to be affected by restrictions.

The first two cases of blue tongue disease was discovered in western Sweden on Saturday in a livestock herd about 10 kilometres east of Halmstad.

The farm has around 300 animals and results from tests performed on the rest of the herd on Sunday are expected on Tuesday.

“Tests have also been done on neighbouring herds which have had some contact with the affected herd through common pastures,” said Leif Denneberg, head veterinarian from the Swedish Board of Agriculture, to the TT news agency.

More veterinarians will travel to the region on Monday to perform tests on other farms in the immediate vicinity of the farm with confirmed cases of the disease.

“In addition we'll start vaccinating, which will occur at the same time,” said Denneberg.

Besides vaccinations, the animals will be treated with an insecticide to kill off the midges that spread the blue tongue virus.

The Agriculture Board has implemented restrictive measures in a large area around the farm.

First, a 20-kilometre radius restrictive area has been set up around the affected farm within which animals cannot be moved.

In addition, a 150-kilometre radius protective area has also created within which existing animals are free to move, but beyond which they cannot be taken.

“The county administrative board can provide permission for transporting animals for slaughter and the Agriculture Board for the moving of grazing animals,” said Denneberg.

He emphasized the importance of quickly determining whether the disease has spread any further, but that it's not going to look like measures taken to stop mad cow disease, which involved the mass slaughtering of animals.

Blue tongue disease affects cattle, sheep, and goats, but not humans. There is no danger in consuming meat and milk from affected animals.

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