Retrospective Analysis of the Bluetongue Outbreak in Serbia

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Bluetongue, a vector-born disease caused by the Bluetongue virus (BTV) and transmitted by Culicoides biting midges, is considered to be one of the most important diseases of domestic ruminants. The first outbreak of bluetongue in Serbia was reported in 2001, when BTV serotype 9 was identified in sampled materials. In 2014, outbreak of BTV-4 in Serbia caused considerable economic losses affecting sheep, cattle and goats. During this outbreak, BTV-4 was recorded in 644 outbreaks within 49 municipalities, part of 17 administrative regions. From the total number of sheep kept in areas affected by bluetongue (n=1 748 110), 2 083 cases (0.2%) were proven to be BTV-4 infected. Total of 206 infected cattle and 24 infected goats were reported during this investigation period, which represents 0.06% and 0.03% of the total number of cattle and goats kept in affected areas, respectively. The highest incidence of infected sheep, cattle and goats was recorded on the territory covered by veterinary institute of Nis. Recorded lethality in cattle, sheep and goats was 18.45% (n=38), 48.10% (n=1002) and 54.17% (n=13), respectively. The peak of the outbreak was in September and October when 94.43% of the confirmed positive cases, regardless of the species, was recorded. Monitoring of bluetongue disease in Serbia relies on active surveillance programmes aimed at: (i) identification and tracing of susceptible and potentially infected animals and (ii) detection, distribution and prevalence of insect vectors. Vaccination of sheep is planned to be implemented as a control measure against bluetongue in Serbia.

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