Exotic notifiable animal diseases contingency plans - Scottish Regional Resilience Partnerships' framework: August 2022

Information on how and when operational partners should respond to a suspect or confirmed exotic notifiable animal disease outbreak.

Appendix L: Bluetongue virus (BTV)


BTV is a notifiable disease of ruminants, including sheep, cattle, deer, goats and camelids (which includes camels, llamas, alpacas etc.). The disease has the potential for rapid spread with significant production loss for the sheep and cattle industry. BTV clinical signs may be confused with other diseases, including FMD, and any concerns must be discussed with a private vet or the duty APHA vet. There are 26 different serotypes and it is spread by various species of biting midges of the genus Culicoides. It cannot naturally be transmitted directly between animals (except BTV8, which may occur across the placenta, and BTV 26 between goats). When a midge bites an infected animal, in the right conditions the virus replicates in the insect vector and then passed on to the next ruminant host at the next midge bite. Peak populations of the vector Culicoides occur in the summer and autumn and therefore this is the time when BTV is most commonly seen. Vaccination against certain strains of bluetongue (BTV1, 4 and 8) is permitted in GB and is the most effective control method.

The Scottish Government's control structures set up to respond to a bluetongue outbreak is outlined in the Scottish Government's Exotic Diseases of Animal Contingency Framework Plan. However, as the disease is spread by vectors, the disease response is different to most other exotic notifiable diseases. The GB Bluetongue Virus Disease Control Strategy outlines the Government's response to a bluetongue virus outbreak. During an outbreak of bluetongue virus in Scotland or elsewhere in GB, those web pages will be supplemented with additional information specific to the disease outbreak.

Legislation and National Control Strategy

Year: 2000

Disease Orders: EU Directive (Specific provision for the control and eradication of Bluetongue)

Statutory Instrument number: 75/EEC

Year: 2007

Disease Orders: EU Regulation (regarding control, monitoring, surveillance and restriction on movement of animals in relation to Bluetongue)

Statutory Instrument number: 1266/EEC

Year: 2012

Disease Orders: The Bluetongue (Scotland) Order 2012

Statutory Instrument number: 199

Year: 2014

Disease Orders: The GB Bluetongue Virus Control Strategy 2014

Possible Impact

BTV is a highly infectious viral disease of animals spread by certain types of biting midge. Its ability to spread is dependent on favourable climatic conditions.

If BTV is suspected, an APHA veterinary inspector will serve a restriction notice prohibiting the movement of ruminants from the premises and anywhere that susceptible animals may have been exposed to the disease. A Temporary Control Zone (TCZ), of an appropriate size to contain disease, may be declared around the premises while veterinary investigations are carried out. No susceptible animals, carcases, ovum, embryos or semen are permitted to move to or from any premises within this zone, except under licence issued by a veterinary inspector. If infection is identified at the premises and there appears to be limited local spread, e.g. on the farm and no evidence of widespread circulation of disease by midges, Scottish Ministers will likely try and contain and eradicate disease by culling relevant ruminant animals. At this point it may not be necessary to introduce a wider Restricted Zone (comprising control, Protection and Surveillance Zones). Confirmation of disease usually requires evidence that disease is circulating. If disease is confirmed on premises in Scotland, legislation requires the introduction of a restricted zone and gives the Scottish Ministers the power to introduce a protection zone and a surveillance zone. Such zones are of an area determined by the Scottish Ministers. These area control measures include movement restrictions similar to that imposed by the TCZ. Controls on the movement of livestock out of a zone may have an economic impact on livestock keepers caught up in those zones. Chronically affected animals will likely have to be destroyed on welfare grounds. As there is no compulsory culling of infected animals, there will be no Government compensation for affected animals. Public access will likely be restricted to the IP only.

Public health

There is no risk to human health. BTV does not affect humans.

Risk of introduction of infection and spread of disease

Since 1999, there have been widespread outbreaks in most European countries including France, Spain, Greece, Italy, Corsica and the Balearic Islands. A number of serotypes have been involved including BTV 2, 4, 8 and 16.

Lead responder control measures under Statutory and Regulatory powers and responsibilities

Local Authority principal role

  • Enforcing animal health and welfare legislation.
  • Enforcing movement restrictions.
  • Enforcing of C&D requirements.
  • Issue movement licences (if requested by APHA)
  • Erection of signage and dissemination of guidance and information.
  • Stand down and recovery.

Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) principal role

  • Respond to and investigate all reports of suspect notifiable disease.
  • Lead agency in the instigation of local response to disease outbreak.
  • Convene the NDCC, CDCC and FOB
  • Issue movement licences
  • Supervise the welfare of animals being culled
  • Surveillance and blood sampling of animals to demonstrate the absence of disease, and thus gain recognition of disease freedom.

Scottish Government principal role

  • Ensure necessary legislation is in place.
  • Make and disseminate policy decisions
  • Make and disseminate guidance and information on disease control.
  • Communicate with field staff and enforcement bodies (such as local authorities).
  • Handle policy issues, as well as share disease control developments with SGoRR, NDCC, and other UK Rural Affairs departments.

Following suspicion of disease

A restriction notice is served on the suspect premises. This would restrict the movement of susceptible animals on/off the premises

Following confirmation of disease

  • An Infected Area, consisting of a PZ and SZ will be established.
  • The PZ will be at least 100 km from the IP and the outer boundary of the SZ will at least 50 km in radius beyond the PZ.
  • Movement of susceptible animals out of these zones are banned (although animals can move freely within those zones) except under certain conditions.
  • Implementation of a surveillance programme

Control Zones which may be declared

Statutory Instrument:The BT (S) Order 2012

Zone: Temporary Control Zone (TCZ)

Stage declared: Suspicion

Area: Any size considered fit by Scottish Ministers (SMs)


  • Article 13
  • Some or all measures in Article 12(1)(b) to (e)

Statutory Instrument:The BT (S) Order 2012

Zone: Control Zone

Stage declared: Confirmation

Area: 20 km (Initially, then may be varied)

Controls: Article 15

Statutory Instrument:The BT (S) Order 2012

Zone: Protection Zone (PZ)

Stage declared: Confirmation

Area: 100 km radius (minimum)

Controls: Article 16

Statutory Instrument:The BT (S) Order 2012

Zone: Surveillance Zone (SZ)

Stage declared: Confirmation

Area: >50 km radius beyond the PZ

Controls: Article 16

Statutory Instrument:The BT (S) Order 2012

Zone: Provisionally Free Area

Stage declared: Exit Strategy

Area: Areas previously part of a PZ and SZ

Controls: Reduced PZ/SZ measures


Email: Animal.Health@gov.scot

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