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Germany finds first case of bluetongue in cows, sheep

The disease was found at one sheep farm and eight cow farms, the ministry said in a statement on its Web site yesterday. The ministry has banned all movement of animals from the farms. Movement of the animals and semen, embryos and ova produced after May 1 was banned in parts of Europe by the European Union, the EU said on its Web site yesterday. The ban covers most of the Netherlands and Belgium, all of Luxembourg and parts of the German states of North Rhine Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland and Hessen. Bluetongue is transmitted through insect bites and affects cows, goats and sheep. While cows and goats usually recover the disease can be lethal for sheep, whose heads may swell and tongues turn blue. The disease isn't dangerous for humans, the ministry said. The outbreak of the disease in Germany follows outbreaks in the Netherlands and Belgium last week. The Netherlands has banned all exports of live cows, sheep and goats. Bluetongue normally affects animals living in Mediterranean countries, such as Italy and Greece. (Bloomberg)