What to look for – Australian strains cause no signs of disease
Virulent bluetongue virus may cause fever, small ulcers and bleeding in the mouth and nose, dribbling of saliva and nasal discharges.
Cause – an insect-borne virus
There are 24 different types of bluetongue virus and, of these, 10 have been found in Australia. We need to keep Australia free of the virulent strains of bluetongue virus.
Animals likely to be affected
Any ruminant animals such as sheep, cattle, buffaloes and goats.
Other diseases with similar signs
Virulent strains of bluetongue resemble other exotic diseases such as Foot and Mouth Disease and Vesicular Stomatitis. Bluetongue may also be mistaken for diseases that occur in Australia such infectious bovine rhinotracheitis or BVDV(mucosal disease). Any outbreak of disease resembling bluetongue should be reported promptly to a veterinarian for a thorough investigation.
Confirming the diagnosis
Laboratory testing of blood samples indicates whether an animal has had contact with bluetongue virus. Laboratory testing of other samples can identify and type the bluetongue virus.
Spread of the disease
Bluetongue virus is transmitted from animal to animal by biting midges from the Culicoides family. These midges feed on infected animals and the virus multiplies in their salivary glands before being injected into another animal. Australia has several different types of Culicoides midges, each with a different distribution, but all are primarily located in northern Australia.
Risks to people