JANUARY 28, 2008: Tests are being carried out to check whether there has been a new outbreak of the bluetongue in animals in north-west England.

The suspected cases have been found in north Shropshire and Greater Manchester and two of the animals are sheep.If tests prove positive, it will mean new restrictions for thousands of livestock farmers in large parts of the UK previously free of the disease.Bluetongue is a non-contagious virus spread by a midge species, affecting ruminants including sheep and cattle.The first case in the UK was detected last September. The disease spread to other parts of south-east England and protection and surveillance zones remain in place.According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affair’s website, as of noon on 11 January there were 66 confirmed premises affected by bluetongue.

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