The Bluetongue protection zone in East Anglia remains established this evening, but the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) risk area is now smaller after tests were returned negative.

With 11 cases now confirmed of Bluetongue, the disease has now officially been classed as an outbreak, and a 12 mile control zone in East Anglia is now in place with an additional 93-mile protection zone covering parts of Lincolnshire to Sussex.

Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer, Fred Landeg said: ?Examination of the latest emerging evidence has led to the conclusion that the Bluetongue virus is now circulating between the local midge and animal populations. We are acutely aware of the impact this and the associated control measures will have, but the decision to confirm an outbreak has not been taken lightly.

?Bluetongue is spread via midge vectors, rather than animal to animal. This means animals infected with Bluetongue will not be compulsorily slaughtered from now on. There is no vaccine currently available, however we will consider vaccination in the event that a suitable authorised inactivated vaccine becomes available.?

In addition, Defra has today announced that Kent, Essex, East Sussex, Southend, Thurrock, Medway, Brighton and Hove will be removed from the (FMD) Risk Area from midnight tonight and moved to Low Risk Area. This decision follows a veterinary risk assessment revealing no evidence of movements of FMD susceptible animals to, or have cause to suspect FMD in, those counties. Areas remaining within the FMD Risk Area are kept under constant review.

This decision means that livestock keepers in these areas will be able to move animals from farm to farm. Pigs will also be allowed to move an unlimited distance while the control measures in place within the Bluetongue Protection Zone remain unchanged.