Sandrine Moine, PhD
R&D Manager at Thermo Fisher Scientific
Based on what I’m reading, there is greater potential for bluetongue virus (BTV) outbreaks in Europe this summer. How can diagnostics help to control the disease?
In 2015, we saw a resurgence of BTV in France, the Balkans and other areas. Diagnostics played a key role helping establish the BTV restriction zones now in place in 14 EU countries, which helps contain the disease.
Since BTV is spread primarily by Culicoides biting midges, periods of warm weather are the most favorable times for disease transmission. The mild, midge-friendly winter may help spread the disease. In ruminants, BTV can cause abortions, malformed fetuses and even death. Visual identification of BTV can be challenging since clinical signs in cattle, when seen, are similar to symptoms of other diseases. Infected cows without clinical signs may be an invisible source of BTV within a herd or region.
Our polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and ELISA detection kits that have been validated with the Pirbright Institute, OIE reference lab for BTV, can quickly and reliably identify whether BTV is present and, if so, which strain is involved. Many European countries are establishing surveillance and management programs to help veterinarians and farmers battle BTV when detected.
What can help to contain the disease?
We have been involved in the French surveillance program since 2007 and when the outbreak occurred in France last year, Thermo Fisher Scientific reacted quickly by meeting the increased demand for BTV diagnostic tools and working closely with French animal health experts to contain the disease, especially as vaccine availability was limited. It is part of our company’s mission to strive to be reliable partners in managing animal health issues with our large portfolio of ready-to-use diagnostic tools.
While the availability of a BTV vaccine varies by country, your veterinarian can help you make an informed decision on whether vaccination makes sense based on your own farm’s business risk and the diagnostic test results in your region.
So, as warm weather approaches, set up an appointment with your veterinarian and remain vigilant for bluetongue in your herd.