March 28, 2008

Italy has reported an outbreak of bluetongue, a disease closely related to deadly African horse sickness and carried by the same midges.

Italy has reported four cases in cattle to the World Organisation for Animal Health, the first of which occurred on March 11.

The affected farm is in the Verona area.

Authorities said in their report yesterday that an additional 139 animals were considered susceptible to the outbreak.

Movement controls, screening and zoning have been used to control the outbreak.

Bluetongue has been a growing problem in Europe and the slow spread north of African horse sickness, with its high fatality rate, is considered one of the greatest threats to northern European horse populations.