Britain reports fifth case of bluetongue disease

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LONDON, Sep 28 (Reuters) Britain's farm ministry reported a fifth case of bluetongue disease in an animal in Suffolk, eastern England.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) yesterday said an animal tested positive at a premises near near Burstall, Suffolk. The animal will be culled.

DEFRA also said it had decided to ease current foot-and-mouth disease restrictions to allow movements to livestock markets in low risk area from next Thursday, as long as there were no changes to the situation.

Britain's first-ever case of bluetongue was reported on Saturday in Baylham, also in Suffolk, and a second case was reported at the same farm on Monday.

A third case near Lowestoft in Suffolk was confirmed on Tuesday, and a fourth case near Ipswich on Wednesday.

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 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 SG PM1224

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