Belgium has become the second European country to authorise the use of a new bluetongue vaccine.

The Belgian federal medicines agency has given the green light to authorised a bluetongue virus serotype 3 (BTV-3) vaccine, developed by Spanish company Syva.

This makes Belgium the second EU country to allow the use of a new bluetongue vaccine.

The vaccine has been given a emergency authorisation for use on both sheep and cattle, is the same one authorised for use in the Netherlands.

Belgian and Dutch authorities have said they expect a large-scale outbreak of BTV-3 from the end of June.

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The Netherlands has confirmed over 6000 cases of BTV-3 across the country in 2023, with the UK also confirming a significant number of cases since November last year.

Figures for the Netherlands show that it has lost around 5% of its sheep population due to infection with bluetongue.

Although mortality rates are lower in cattle, it is estimated that 0.2% of the Dutch cattle population died from infection.

Bluetongue also financially impacts many businesses, causing emotional turmoil for farmers.

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The NFU welcomed news of Belgian authorisation, adding that it anticipated the vaccine to become available for use in the UK once authorised by the government.

NFU livestock board chair, David Barton said: “This disease has had a devastating impact in the Netherlands and UK livestock farmers will be anxious to protect their livestock as the weather gets warmer.

“As this is very new vaccine, there are still questions to be answered – not least about the cost of the vaccine, how it will be rolled out, and what support the government can offer to get it deployed quickly and efficiently.”

UK governing bodies have been warning farmers to be aware of a rise in bluetongue cases, but the UK government has not acted on vaccine rollout.