Second Cow Tests Positive for Bluetongue Disease in U.K.

A second cow has tested positive for bluetongue disease at a farm in eastern England, a government agency said Monday.

Both animals were located at a farm near Ipswich, in Suffolk, said the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, or Defra.

The initial case of bluetongue, discovered over the weekend, was the first ever found in Britain, and it comes as the country and its farmers are coping with an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.

"I can confirm a second cow has tested positive for bluetongue and was slaughtered this afternoon on the same farm. The evidence remained insufficient to confirm an outbreak," Defra said in a statement.

The cow at the Baylham House Rare Breeds Farm near Ipswich was slaughtered after veterinarians made the discovery, Defra said.

A bluetongue temporary area for surveillance was being established in a large area north and northeast of London, including Suffolk, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Cambridgeshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire.

Bluetongue — an insect-borne, viral disease once common only in Mediterranean climes — affects cows, sheep and other ruminant animals, and can be fatal. Bluetongue does not affect humans, but the economic consequences of the diseases can be devastating.

The announcement came as Defra said that livestock at a farm in southern England have tested negative for foot-and-mouth but that animals at a new site were being tested for the highly contagious and sometimes fatal viral disease of cattle, pigs, deer, goats and sheep. It does not infect humans, but its appearance on farms also can have a major economic impact.

Initial tests indicated animals that were slaughtered on a farm near Petersfield, about 55 miles (90 kilometers) southwest of London, did not have foot-and-mouth disease, Defra said.

However, new tests for foot-and-mouth were taking place at another site in the same county, Hampshire. A control zone was established there, the department said.

Animals were also being slaughtered as a precaution at a site within the existing control zone in the county of Surrey.

Despite the latest negative test, farmers are apprehensive the disease may have spread from Surrey, south of London, where six cases have been confirmed.

Four cases of foot-and-mouth have been confirmed in Surrey this month, following two in August. An inquiry said the August outbreak spread from a nearby laboratory site. Government veterinarians have confirmed that the strain of the disease in this month's cases was the same, and said all the animals appeared to have been infected at the same time.

The latest outbreak has been a blow to British farmers. Hundreds of animals have been slaughtered and movement of animals has been restricted at one of the busiest times of the year for livestock sales.