Bluetongue: control, surveillance and safe movement of animals

EFSA Panel on Animal Health and Welfare (AHAW)

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The performance of different bluetongue control measures related to both vaccination and protection from bluetongue virus (BTV) vectors was assessed. By means of a mathematical model, it was concluded that when vaccination is applied on 95% of animals even for 3 years, bluetongue cannot be eradicated and is able to re-emerge. Only after 5 years of vaccination, the infection may be close to the eradication levels. In the absence of vaccination, the disease can persist for several years, reaching an endemic condition with low level of prevalence of infection. Among the mechanisms for bluetongue persistence, the persistence in the wildlife, the transplacental transmission in the host, the duration of viraemia and the possible vertical transmission in vectors were assessed. The criteria of the current surveillance scheme in place in the EU for demonstration of the virus absence need revision, because it was highlighted that under the current surveillance policy bluetongue circulation might occur undetected. For the safe movement of animals, newborn ruminants from vaccinated mothers with neutralising antibodies can be considered protected against infection, although a protective titre threshold cannot be identified. The presence of colostral antibodies interferes with the vaccine immunisation in the newborn for more than 3 months after birth, whereas the minimum time after vaccination of animal to be considered immune can be up to 48 days. The knowledge about vectors ecology, mechanisms of over-wintering and criteria for the seasonally vector-free period was updated. Some Culicoides species are active throughout the year and an absolute vector-free period may not exist at least in some areas in Europe. To date, there is no evidence that the use of insecticides and repellents reduce the transmission of BTV in the field, although this may reduce host/vector contact. By only using pour-on insecticides, protection of animals is lower than the one provided by vector-proof establishments.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere04698
Number of pages126
JournalEFSA Journal
Issue number3
Early online date8 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017


  • bluetongue
  • vaccination
  • surveillance
  • vector
  • Culicoides
  • insecticides

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