"Bluetongue virus is not infectious to humans; humans are not at risk of getting sick from meat or from contact with animals," Anderson said. "Our food supply inspectors would not let an animal that is sick or in poor condition into our food supply."
Bluetongue virus poses the greatest problems for producers in that it affects the import and export of livestock and that it could cause fetal abnormalities in breeding herds, Anderson said. Although scientists have been working on a vaccine, Anderson said that bluetongue virus has been difficult to control because of the way it's transmitted.
"It is extremely difficult to manage the insect populations," he said. "Scientists think that the virus arrived in Europe from South Africa by the way of strong trade winds blowing across the two continents. More recently, transcontinental transmission has likely occurred via the transport of infected animals. The animals arrive, and then the biting midges feed on them with subsequent transmission to susceptible herd mates or other animals."
Anderson said that intervention strategies should focus on careful control of animals' movements after appropriate testing.
"Producers and veterinarians must always be aware of sick animals, even ones that do not appear to be all that sick," he said. "They should be aware of animals that have sores in their mouths and/or exhibit lameness, because the signs are similar to other diseases like foot and mouth disease that may be more significant and devastating than bluetongue virus."
|Contact: Gary A. Anderson|
Kansas State University