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Bluetongue detected in Austria

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  • Bluetongue detected in Austria


    Bluetongue detected in Austria: minister

    VIENNA (AFP) --

    The first case of livestock disease bluetongue has been detected in a cow in Austria, Health Minister Andrea Kdolsky said Wednesday.

    The disease was detected in a cow in Schaerding, Upper Austria, during a routine check by the national Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety or AGES, Kdolsky said in a statement.

    "There is no cause for concern for consumers. The bluetongue virus represents no danger to humans," Kdolsky insisted.

    Bluetongue is a non-contagious, insect-borne viral disease that affects ruminants such as cows and sheep but not pigs or horses. It is difficult to control once it takes hold.

    It is not a risk to humans, but in animals it causes high fevers, mouth ulcers and swollen heads.

    Kdolsky said that a blood sample of the cow was immediately sent to the Institute for Animal Health in Pirbright, Britain, which serves as the reference laboratory for bluetongue for the EU.

    Nevertheless, an outbreak of the disease could have "a substantial effect on the meat and dairy industries and the cattle trade since it can lead to fertility problems and lower output," the minister said.

    In a move to prevent the disease spreading, regulations stipulate that a 150-kilometre protective zone must be set up around the infected area where all animals are tested and monitored closely.

    Since July, vaccination against bluetongue has been compulsory in the provinces of Tyrol and Vorarlberg after the disease was detected in Austria's neighbours in 2006 and 2007.

    "By the end of March 2009, there will be nationwide vaccination to reduce the risk of the disease spreading," Kdolsky said.