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EU says bluetongue virus strain never seen before in Europe

Tourism

The bluetongue virus strain discovered in cows and sheep in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands is a strain never seen before in Europe, a spokesman for European Union regulators said 28 August. Bluetongue can be fatal in sheep. The infection isn't dangerous for humans, according to the Dutch agriculture ministry. Animals at risk must be treated with insecticides or kept inside at night to avoid contact with virus-carrying mosquitoes, and security zones have been set up, officials said. „It's a strain which has never been identified before in Europe,” European Commission spokesman Philip Tod told a regularly scheduled news briefing in Brussels 28 August. „It's likely to be sub-Saharan in origin.” Previous cases of bluetongue disease in Europe have normally been found in Mediterranean countries. Belgian officials said Aug. 26 they found nine more cases of bluetongue viral infection among cows and sheep, bringing the total to 46. The infection is transmitted through insect bites and affects cows, goats and sheep. To limit the spread, the European Union on Aug. 21 banned the movement of animals and semen, embryos and ova produced after May 1 in most of the Netherlands and Belgium, all of Luxembourg and parts of the German states of North Rhine Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland and Hessen. (Bloomberg)

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