Sheep Producers Warned to Watch for Bluetongue; Virus Found in Ontario Cattle Herd

The Ontario Sheep Marketing Agency (OSMA) is warning sheep producers that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has confirmed a positive case of Bluetongue virus in an Ontario cattle herd.

Bluetongue disease is caused by the Bluetongue virus, and transmitted from animal to animal by the Culicoides midge. The virus attacks the lining of blood vessels in the tissues and organs of affected animals. The disease is most severe in sheep and in some species of deer. Cattle, goats, buffalo and antelope are also susceptible.

Certain strains of bluetongue are deemed a reportable disease is Canada. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs says the strain found in Ontario is strain 13, an “immediately notifiable” disease. See more information at CFIA’s info page here.

The Bluetongue virus has previously been reported in cattle, in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. Earlier this year, OSMA set up Culicoides midge monitoring stations in several area of Ontario, focused on the Ottawa Valley and the Windsor area.

Symptoms of Bluetongue may include high fevers in excess of 40 degrees C (104 degrees F), salivation, swelling of the face, ears and body. Erosion of the lining of the tongue and oral cavity and occasionally cyanosis of the tongue, giving the disease its name.

Sheep can also present with lameness due to inflammation of the hooves, diarrhea and pneumonia. Abortion and deformity of the fetus have also been reported, says OSMA. Fatality rates can run from 10% to 50% depending on the natural immunity of the flock and the predominant strain of the disease. For those animals that survive, recovery can be very slow.

For more information, downoad this PDF.

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