How to prevent, spot and report it
Epizootic haemorrhagic disease (EHD) is a notifiable disease. It is a disease of animals, not humans, so there are no human or public health issues.
Epizootic haemorrhagic disease (EHD) affects:
- other ruminants (animals that chew cud, like goats and sheep)
The disease can cause large outbreaks in susceptible animals. This can result in trade and movement restrictions.
EHD does not affect people or food safety.
Outbreaks of EHD in cattle have been reported for the first time in Southern Europe, in Sardinia and Italy in November 2022.
It has since spread to Portugal, Spain and most recently in cattle on three farms in France in September 2023.
EHD is also present in neighbouring countries to Europe, across the Middle East and North Africa.
It is not currently present in Northern Ireland, GB, or the Republic of Ireland.
How to spot EHD
You are only likely to see signs of EHD in severe infections. The main signs are:
- lack of appetite
- more saliva than usual
- difficulty swallowing
- skin rash on the udder
- bleeding (skin and internal tissues)
- swollen red skin near hooves
- swollen lining of the mouth
- mouth ulcers
- difficulty breathing
- sudden death (particularly in deer)
Wild ruminants such as deer may also:
- have a swollen face
- have redness of the eyes and mouth
- have excessive bleeding (in diarrhoea and urine)
- be dehydrated
In some cases there are no obvious clinical signs that an animal is infected.
How EHD is spread
EHD is usually spread when midges that carry it bite susceptible animals and pass on the infection.
EHD could spread to the UK if infected midges are carried by the wind. The risk of this happening depends on:
- whether disease spreads to animals in nearby areas of Europe
- the presence of infected midges in nearby areas of Europe
- weather patterns
EHD could also spread to the UK if infected live animals, or their germinal products, are imported from countries where EHD is circulating.
Preventing and controlling EHD
There is no commercially available vaccine to protect against EHD.
You can help prevent EHD by practising strict biosecurity on your premises.
If you suspect an animal has EHD or any notifiable disease you must report it to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) by calling (insert phone number). Following a report, DAERA vets will investigate.
If EHD is confirmed, the outbreak will be controlled in line with the contingency plan for exotic notifiable diseases.
If notifiable disease is suspected
Contact the DAERA Helpline on 0300 200 7840 or your local DAERA Direct Regional Office. Failure to do so is an offence.
Importing animals to Northern Ireland
Before importing cattle, deer and other ruminants to Northern Ireland you should:
- get advice from your vet about the risks and the health status of animals
- check for current advice relating to animal imports and exports
- consider asking the seller to test for EHD
- make sure the animals meet the health and test requirements in the relevant Health Certificates.