A disease linked to climate change threatens European cows

A disease that can be fatal for animals, and particularly for cows, has been detected for the first time in Europe.

by IM with AFP

In cows, the identified disease can result in fever, anorexia, lameness and respiratory distress.

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Epizootic, epidemic that strikes animals. A disease that affects European cows, and which can prove fatal, is coming to Europe. Health authorities fear that the epidemic will affect the whole continent. It is more specifically an “epizootic hemorrhagic disease”, transmitted to the animal by biting midges, themselves more and more present because of climate change, reported Friday May 12 the ANSES, the French health agency.

The first cases of this viral disease, not transmissible to humans, were detected in the fall of 2022 on the Italian island of Sardinia, then in Sicily, indicates ANSES in a note on its website. Outbreaks were then identified in Andalusia (southern Spain). “In cattle, this potentially fatal disease results in fever, anorexia, lameness and respiratory distress,” the agency said.

A disease discovered in… 1955!

The disease, which mainly affects white-tailed deer and cattle, was discovered in the United States in 1955. The virus “has since spread to Asia, Australia and Africa”.

READ ALSOThe Usutu virus detected in France: should we be worried? “Fifteen years ago, we never imagined that the disease could one day arrive in Europe”, explains researcher Stéphan Zientara, quoted by ANSES. “Its extension is a direct consequence of climate change, which allows vector midges to survive in our regions,” he continues.

According to the scientist, “the most likely hypothesis is that midges were carried across the Mediterranean by the wind”. No vaccine is available against the type of virus identified in Europe. Surveillance has been set up in France, underlines ANSES, “with the aim of analyzing any suspicious animal”, in particular among deer.

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