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Bluetongue - EUR-Lex

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Bluetongue - EUR-Lex

The European Union (EU) has adopted measures to prevent and control bluetongue – the range and scope of the measures depend on whether the presence of the disease on holdings is confirmed or merely suspected.


Council Directive 2000/75/EC of 20 November 2000 laying down specific provisions for the control and eradication of bluetongue [See amending act(s)].


This Directive and its subsequent amendments lay down measures to control and eradicate bluetongue.

Particularly since the introduction into the Union of bluetongue virus serotypes 1 and 8 in the years 2006 and 2007, the bluetongue virus has become more widespread, with the potential to become endemic in certain areas. It has therefore become difficult to control the spread of that virus.

The original rules on vaccination against bluetongue laid down in Directive 2000/75/EC were based on experience of the use of so-called modified live vaccines or live attenuated vaccines, which were the only vaccines available when that Directive was adopted. However, the use of those vaccines may lead to an undesired local circulation of the vaccine virus in unvaccinated animals.

As a result of new technology, inactivated vaccines against bluetongue have since become available which do not pose the risk of undesired local circulation of the vaccine virus to unvaccinated animals. The extensive use of such vaccines during the vaccination campaign in the years 2008 and 2009 led to a significant improvement in the disease situation. Vaccination with inactivated vaccines is now the preferred tool for the control of bluetongue and for the prevention of clinical disease in the Union.

Provided that appropriate precautionary measures are taken, the use of live attenuated vaccines is not excluded, as their use might still be necessary under certain circumstances, such as following the introduction of a new bluetongue virus serotype against which inactivated vaccines may not be available.

Suspected or confirmed cases of the bluetongue virus must be notified to the competent authority of the Member State concerned before implementing the required measures.

Measures for suspected cases of the disease

Where the presence of the disease is suspected in a flock, the official veterinarian is to place the holding(s) concerned under surveillance and undertake a certain number of investigative measures (surveillance of the holding, inventory of the animals and the premises, epidemiological survey, etc.) and protective measures (ban on movements of animals, treatment of animals with insecticide, destruction and disposal of animal carcases, etc.).

Measures for confirmed cases of the disease

If the presence of the disease is confirmed, the official veterinarian will extend the measures introduced on suspicion to all holdings within a 20-km radius around the infected holding(s). He will also carry out an epidemiological survey and may launch a vaccination programme around the outbreaks of bluetongue.

Where the presence of the disease is confirmed, the competent authority must establish a protection zone and a surveillance zone around the holdings.

Protection zone and surveillance zone

The protection zone will extend over a radius of at least 100 kilometres around the infected holding(s). Within that zone, all holdings with animals must be identified and the animals may not leave the zone. The competent authority must establish an epidemiological surveillance programme. A vaccination programme may also be set up within the protection zone.

The surveillance zone will extend for at least 50 kilometres beyond the protection zone. Within that zone, the measures for identification, restriction of movement and epidemiological surveillance applicable within the protection zone must be implemented. However, the vaccination of animals against bluetongue is forbidden.

The protection and surveillance zones may be extended or reduced depending on the epidemiological, geographical, ecological or meteorological circumstances.


Vaccines against bluetongue may be permitted provided that the decision is based on a specific risk assessment carried out by the authorities and that the European Commission is informed before it takes place.

Whenever live attenuated vaccines are used, a protection zone, consisting of at least the vaccination area, as well as a surveillance zone, consisting of a part of the Union territory with a depth of at least 50 kilometres extending beyond the limits of the protection zone must be demarcated.

Any vaccination against bluetongue using live attenuated vaccines is prohibited in the surveillance zone.

Derogations and supplementary measures

The Commission, assisted by the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health may adopt supplementary or derogatory measures. In particular provisions may be adopted to allow animals to leave the protection and surveillance zones under certain conditions.

National laboratories

Each Member State designates a national laboratory responsible for carrying out the laboratory tests provided for by this Directive and then informs the other Member States and the public of the laboratory’s contact details. Each national laboratory must cooperate with the Community reference laboratory located at Pirbright (United Kingdom).


The outbreak of bluetongue at the end of the 1990s demonstrated that the Community legislation then in force did not deal with the specific features of the disease. This Directive takes over a number of measures laid down by Directive 92/35/EEC concerning African horse sickness, which were adaptable to cover bluetongue.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2000/75/EC



OJ L 327 of 22.12.2000

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2008/73/EC



OJ L 219 of 14.8.2008

Directive 2012/5/EU



OJ L 81 of 21.3.2012

The successive amendments and corrections to Directive 2000/75/EC have been incorporated in the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.