bluetongue’s winter warmer

Now here’s a thing. I had a fit of the giggles. Actually it was probably a touch of mini-hysteria; the uncontrolled, raucous, thigh-slapping, tears-pouring-down-face kind, coloured by total disbelief. Wishful thinking there – what I would hope to be total disbelief.

In this week’s New Scientist under the heading ‘Bluetongue’s Winter Warmer we were told about the distinct possibility of bluetongue virus overwintering in the unborn calf cosseted and protected by the cosy bubble of bovine uterine warmth.

And as those hungry veracious biting midges reappear (the end of the non-vector period was the 15th March) these bonny babies would become a delicious fresh source of the bluetounge virus. Hey-presto! Yup, you have it in one.

Pirbright suggest there should be additional controls targeted at newborn animals. Now, me-wonders, what on earth have they in mind? No vaccine around yet. Could only be one other thing.

And if that’s not sinister enough – listen to this…the only bluetongue virus ever seen to cross the placenta of infected mothers to infect their foetuses was a laboratory-adapted strain used in experiments with sheep in the 70s.

Ring any bells? Shades of last summer’s FMD fiasco? Afterall the great and the good have been wondering how the BTV8 strain gained such an unshakable foothold in northern Europe.

Maybe they now have their answer.