ISSN 2398-2993      

Bluetongue virus


Veronica Fowler

Jo Oultram

University of Liverpool logo

Synonym(s): BTV




  • Family: reoviridae.
  • Sub-family: sedoreoviridae.
  • Genus: orbivirus.
  • Species: bluetongue virus (BTV).

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Clinical Effects



  • BTV is only found within the habitats of competent vectors which comprises all continents except Antarctica.  


  • BTV is not transmitted by direct contact but instead primarily by midges.
  • BTV can also be transmitted from the mother to foetus usually resulting in abortion.

Pathological effects

  • The incubation period is usually around 5-10 days.
  • Viraemia in sub-clinically infected cattle occurs around 4 days post infection.
  • BTV causes damage to the mucous membranes of the mouth and nose, and the coronary band of the foot. Typical clinical signs include high rectal temperatures, salivation, lacrimation, swollen teats and ocular and nasal discharge. A swollen tongue protruding from the mouth is characteristic of BTV infection.


Control via animal

  • Animal movement control.
  • Quarantine.
  • Serological surveys.

Control via environment

  • Vector control.


  • Commercial live attenuated and killed vaccines are available.


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Further Reading


Refereed Papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Dórea F C, Elbers A R, Hendrikx P, Enoe C, Kirkeby C, Hoinville L & Lindberg A (2016) Vector-borne disease surveillance in livestock populations: A critical review of literature recommendations and implemented surveillance (BTV-8) in five European countries. Prev Vet Med 125, 1-9 PubMed.
  • Feenstra F & van Rijn P A (2017) Current and next-generation bluetongue vaccines: Requirements, strategies, and prospects for different field situations. Crit Rev Microbiol 43 (2), 142-155 PubMed.
  • van der Sluijs M T, de Smit A J & Moormann R J (2016) Vector independent transmission of the vector-borne bluetongue virus. Crit Rev Microbiol 42 (1), 57-64 PubMed.
  • Medlock J M & Leach S A (2015) Effect of climate change on vector-borne disease risk in the UK. Lancet Infect Dis 15 (6), 721-30 PubMed.
  • Niedbalski W (2015) Bluetongue in Europe and the role of wildlife in the epidemiology of disease. Pol J Vet Sci 18 (2), 455-61 PubMed.
  • van Vuuren M & Penzhorn B L (2015) Geographic range of vector-borne infections and their vectors: the role of African wildlife. Rev Sci Tech 34 (1), 139-49 PubMed.
  • Rushton J & Lyons N (2015) Economic impact of Bluetongue: a review of the effects on production. Vet Ital 51 (4), 401-6 PubMed.
  • Ruiz-Fons F, Sánchez-Matamoros A, Gortázar C & Sánchez-Vizcaíno J M (2014) The role of wildlife in bluetongue virus maintenance in Europe: lessons learned after the natural infection in Spain.Virus Res 182, 50-8 PubMed.
  • Maclachlan N J & Mayo C E (2013) Potential strategies for control of bluetongue, a globally emerging, Culicoides-transmitted viral disease of ruminant livestock and wildlife. Antiviral Res 99 (2), 79-90 PubMed.


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