Spotlight on Bluetongue Virus
USDA/ARS Healthy Animals
Bluetongue virus (BTV) infection only rarely results in the swollen, bluish mouth tissue for which it was named, but its other symptoms—such as fever, swelling, and salivation—can cause significant discomfort for the animals it affects. The virus targets ruminants such as cattle, sheep, goats and deer. Sheep are particularly susceptible to BTV and may have mortality rates above 10 percent.
Biting midges known as Culicoides spread the virus, which has 24 different serotypes. Although it’s not always fatal, BTV infection reduces production efficiency, resulting in significant economic losses. There is no known cure, but precautions can be taken to prevent its spread.