British lab detects Bluetongue disease in cow

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LONDON, Sep 22 (Reuters) A British lab has detected the presence of Bluetongue virus in a cow in eastern England, the agriculture ministry said today, the first case recorded in the United Kingdom.

''Laboratory tests have detected the presence of Bluetongue in one cow on a premise near Ipswich, Suffolk,'' the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said in a statement.

''The premises where Bluetongue has been found is under restrictions. One infected animal will be culled and epidemiological investigations are being carried out to assess the situation.'' Bluetongue causes fever and mouth ulcers and in some cases turns an animal's tongue blue. It is transmitted by insects such as midges and can be highly dangerous to sheep and cows, although it does not affect humans.

The detection of the virus came a day after British authorities said they had confirmed another case of foot and mouth disease at a farm in southern England and ordered the slaughter of its cattle.

Defra said Bluetongue and the measures to be take against it were both very different from foot and mouth disease cases.

The disease is mostly found in Mediterranean countries such as Italy, Spain and in North Africa, but has spread this year across five more northerly EU countries -- Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

REUTERS AK PM0100

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