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Animal Health Diseases

Avian Flue Update December 2016

Currently an avian influenza prevention zone has been declared.  For further information please visit the gov.uk website


Current animal health diseases

Foot and Mouth

Swine Flu


Avian Influenza

Blue Tongue

Rabies and Pet Travel

Other Animal Diseases


Disease - what to do if disease is suspected

Monitor your stock carefully and regularly, and remain vigilant for signs of animal disease, whether or not disease is present in the United Kingdom.

If notifiable diseases such as foot & mouth, swine fever, rabies, avian influenza or Swine Vesicular is suspected at any premises within Bedfordshire please contact the State Veterinary Service at:

Bury St Edmunds 01284 778150, or

Chelmsford 0845 050 4141

Also contact the Bedford Trading Standards on 01234 718099 or your local Police Station (Bedford Police Headquarters 01234 841212) as you have a statutory duty to inform the authorities.


Foot and Mouth

Foot and mouth disease is an infectious disease affecting cloven-hoofed animals, in particular cattle, sheep, pigs, goats and deer. Other ruminants including deer and some zoo animals, camelids (camels, llamas, alpacas, guanaco and vicuña) and elephants can also be affected. The disease is serious for animal health and for the economics of the livestock industry. While FMD is not normally fatal to adult animals, it is debilitating and causes significant loss of productivity; for example milk yields may drop or the animals may become lame. In young animals it can be fatal on a large scale.


Swine Flu Information

Swine influenza is a disease of pigs caused by a virus (influenza virus). Influenza viruses exist as various types and the most common type found in pigs is Type A. The virus is present in all pig producing countries, including the UK. Type A strains can also infect other species, including people, although the strains of virus involved are usually different.



Defra has laid new legislation in Parliament to amend and update the Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies Regulations. From 1 January 2009, the UK will test all cattle aged over 48 months.  

The Defra-funded collection and disposal service for fallen cattle in Great Britain ended on 31 December 2008 for 24 to 48 month old cattle that die after that date.

From 12 January 2009, cattle keepers in Great Britain will be responsible for arranging and paying for the disposal of carcases of over 48 month old cattle which must still be tested for BSE.  


Avian Influenza

It is vital that all bird keepers in the UK continue to practice the highest levels of bio-security and be vigilant for any signs of disease. If you are concerned about the health of your birds you should seek advice from your veterinary surgeon. If you suspect that your birds have avian influenza, you should report it to your local Animal Health Office (Bedford’s Local Animal Health Office is Bury St Edmonds on 01284 778150.)

If you need to report dead wild gulls, waders, ducks, geese or swans; groups of dead birds or need advice on avian flu, please contact the DEFRA Helpline 08459 33 55 77, 8.00am to 6.00pm Monday to Friday.

For food safety advice please see the Food Standards Agency website.


Bluetongue is a disease of animals affecting all ruminants, including sheep, cattle, deer, goats and camelids (camels, llamas, alpacas, guanaco and vicuña). It does not affect horses or pigs. Although sheep are most severely affected, cattle are the main mammalian reservoir of the virus and are very important in the epidemiology of the disease. It is characterised by changes to the mucous linings of the mouth and nose and the coronary band of the foot. The disease is caused by a virus spread by certain types of biting midges. Bluetongue is present when it is confirmed by laboratory tests that the Bluetongue virus (BTV) is circulating in an area. Bluetongue does not affect humans.

To remain vigilant for Bluetongue you should inspect your stock, particularly focusing on the mucous linings, (lining of the mouth and nose) and the coronary band (where the hoof stops and the skin starts), and; if you suspect one of your animals has Bluetongue, it is vital to report it as early as possible. Telephone your nearest Animal Health Office (Bury St Edmonds on 01284 778150) immediately or call the Defra helpline on: 08459 33 55 77 between 9am - 5pm, 5 days a week.


Rabies Protection and Pet Travel

Rabies is a usually fatal disease that attacks the central nervous system of mammals, including humans, causing rapid paralysis of limbs and respiratory failure.

Rabies is a form of infectious disease that affects only warm blooded creatures (including humans). The cause is a virus that multiplies rapidly in a mammalian blood system.

Access is gained through bites and scratches from infected animals or through saliva in contact with broken skin. Once in the bloodstream the virus multiplies forming an invasive infection - affecting the central nervous system.  The first signs are restlessness, followed by loss of muscular control such that the infected animal cannot stand, ultimately the heart and lungs lose their muscular capability, resulting in death. 

The signs of restless nervousness, followed by aggressive behaviour by normally docile animals tends to be a short-lasting warning.  Animals are often afraid of water during this onset period.  In later stages the animal often shows foaming at the mouth. Any suspicion of an infected animal must be reported to the local Veterinary Service, or to Trading Standards Officers or to the Police. 

Any suspected animal must not be approached as it might bite or claw the person approaching it.  There is a set procedure to be followed once a suspected case of rabies has been identified.  The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) will take charge of the contingency planning operation once their officials are advised. The most important part of this is to isolate a suspected animal and prevent it from attacking any other person or animal. 

Therefore local warnings and exclusion zones must be strictly observed for the safety of all concerned.  There will be warning signs at all entrance and exits to such premises.

Classical rabies was eradicated from the UK in 1922 and the Pet Travel Scheme and quarantine help protect against infected animals entering the UK, but because of the existence of the disease elsewhere there is concern about rabies being reintroduced by illegally imported mammals. Some European bats carry rabies related viruses.

Most species of rabies-susceptible animals entering the UK are required to spend six months in quarantine unless arriving under and complying with all the conditions of the EU Regulation 998/2003 on the non-commercial movement of pet animals or Balai (commercially traded animals - contact Animal Health Divisional Office, Beeches Road, Chelmsford, Essex, CM1 2RU (tel: 01245 358383; nightline: 01245 353632; fax: 01245 351162 or e-mail: AH.Chelmsford@animalhealth.gsi.gov.uk  for more information).

Further information on the level of rabies in other countries around the world is available on the World Health Organisation website

Information on rabies in Europe can be found on the Rabies Bulletin Europe website (http://www.who-rabies-bulletin.org/).


Other Animal Diseases

If you suspect any signs of any notifiable disease, you must immediately notify your local Divisional Veterinary Manager.



If you require any further information on any subjects found within the Animal Health and Welfare section on the internet please either ring DEFRA Helpline on 08459 335577 or visit their website ww2.defra.gov.uk.

Alternatively, contact:

Environmental Health & Trading Standards

Bedford Borough Council

Borough Hall

Caudwell Street


MK42 9AP

Tel: 01234 718099

Email: business@bedford.gov.uk

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