New bluetongue cases found

Two new cases of the animal disease bluetongue have been detected in imported rams, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said today.

The two rams, which were imported from the same premises in the bluetongue-restricted zone in France, were found on premises near Lewes, East Sussex, and Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire.

The cases are the first in the UK this summer and were detected as a result of post-import testing on all animals coming from the Continent which are susceptible to the disease, Defra said.

The Environment Department said there was no evidence the disease - which is transmitted between animals such as cows and sheep by midges - was circulating in the local midge population in the areas where the infected animals were found.