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Bluetongue: Free testing in the high-risk area

Advice for private veterinarians on sampling and free bluetongue testing in England 

Testing will be undertaken at the UK Bluetongue National Reference Laboratory at The Pirbright Institute or the bluetongue official laboratory at the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). 

Eligible high-risk counties

Free bluetongue testing is available in Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Kent and East Sussex. (Further counties may be included if the risk changes). See the interactive map for eligible counties. Risk will be continuously monitored.

Eligible animals for free testing

Free bluetongue testing is only available for susceptible animals that are being moved out of the high-risk counties to live or are being sold at a market within the high-risk counties with buyers from outside the county.

You should only request a free test if keepers plan to move ruminants or camelids outside these counties. Testing is voluntary.

Please note: Defra will only pay for laboratory tests undertaken by a private vet, not the cost of taking the samples. Sampling and testing undertaken by a Veterinary Delivery Partner (VDP) vet contracted by APHA will be free of charge. Unless you have been engaged by Farmcare, your client will be responsible for costs associated with sampling and submission of samples.

Testing young animals

If suckling lambs and kids (i.e., those that are not yet weaned and younger than 3 months) are to be moved out of the high-risk counties, you can decide whether they should be tested. The dam should however be tested prior to the move, even if you don’t intend to move her with the offspring. We suggest that the young are not separated from their dams until the pre-movement test results are obtained.

For weaned lambs and kids, and un-weaned lambs and kids over 3 months, these should be subject to the same sampling and testing requirements as for adult animals.

If moving calves younger than 7 days old out of the high-risk counties, you can decide whether they should be tested. Calves over 7 days of age at the time of sampling should be tested. 

Sample submission and packaging: guidance for private vets

Please note Defra will only refund the cost of the testing not the cost of blood sampling animals by a private vet or costs of sample submission.

  • 1 x EDTA (purple top) blood sample will be used.
  • Each individual animal ID must be recorded on the sample submission for (EXD37)   
  • Please write legibly so we can match the results to the animal tested.
  • Please ensure that the name of the keeper, telephone number and address   for the person to whom the results will be notified, is clearly marked on the submission form.
  • In Part 2 ‘Reason for Sampling’ please use the ‘other box’. Please include the following information the box ‘Free testing in high-risk counties – PCR only. Animals to be moved from address above to XXXXXXXXX (Farm name, village, town, county, Post Code) or name of Market’ (see Example-sample-submission).
  • Please write ‘High-risk counties Free Testing’ and the number of samples on the top of the form and on the outside of the packaging.
  • Samples must be packaged in accordance with ADR UN3373 standards.
  • Please send the samples and submission form at your own expense by Royal Mail or next day courier to:

The Pirbright Institute
Ash Road,
GU24 0NF

If the results are negative

Negative Results will be sent to the keeper if we have their email address. If not, the results will be sent to you to forward on to report to the keeper. The keeper will need to inform the buyer or recipient of the animals of the negative results.

Get help

For more information about free bluetongue testing, contact APHA: Telephone: 0300 020 0301 (choose option 1). Find out about call charges.

You can also read more information and guidance on bluetongue for keepers.

Issued: 07 June 2024