MANHATTAN, KAN. -- Livestock producers in the United States should be cautious but not overly fearful of bluetongue virus, according to a veterinary laboratory director at Kansas State University.
Gary Anderson, director of the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at K-State, said strains of the virus, which recently cropped up in the United Kingdom, can be found in Kansas and elsewhere in the United States.
"We are fortunate that bluetongue virus has many factors that must line up for it to cause significant disease," Anderson said. "The strains of the virus that we have in the U.S. generally are not as virulent, or 'hot,' as some of the strains in other parts of the world."
Bluetongue is a viral infection that most often infects sheep but also infects cattle, deer and other ruminants. The virus is transmitted by a small insect, a biting midge, that is susceptible to cold weather and freezing conditions. Anderson said that's why animals in the U.S. are most susceptible during summer and fall, particularly animals in California and the southern part of the country.
Scientists at K-State's Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory are some of the more than 150 K-Staters actively working in the food safety and animal health arenas. The scientists at the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory routinely test for bluetongue. They use techniques certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and undergo proficiency testing each year.
"We know that bluetongue virus infections occur in Kansas because we see evidence of immune responsiveness to the virus in serum collected from animals," Anderson said. "However, we seldom see the disease here."
The symptoms of bluetongue virus are more apparent in sheep and deer. They include sores on the feet and in the mouth. The virus also can affect animals in poor condition and cause pregnant animals to abort. The symptoms often are not apparent in cattle. Bluetongue virus can increase susceptib
|Contact: Gary A. Anderson|
Kansas State University