Epizootic haemorrhagic disease: how to prevent, spot and report it

How to spot epizootic haemorrhagic disease, what to do if you suspect it and measures to prevent its spread.

Applies to England, Scotland and Wales

Epizootic haemorrhagic disease (EHD) affects:

  • cattle
  • deer
  • 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.

Epizootic haemorrhagic disease is a notifiable animal disease. If you suspect it you must report it immediately by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. In Wales, contact 0300 303 8268. In Scotland, contact your local Field Services Offices. Failure to do so is an offence.

Current situation

Outbreaks of EHD in cattle have been reported for the first time in southern Europe in November 2022. It is not currently present in the UK.

How to spot EHD

You are only likely to see signs of EHD in severe infections. The main signs are:

  • fever
  • weakness
  • 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

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 Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) by calling 03000 200 301. Following a report, APHA vets will investigate.

If EHD is confirmed, the outbreak will be controlled in line with the contingency plan for exotic notifiable diseases.

Read about what happens when you report a notifiable disease in your animals.

Importing animals to Great Britain

Before importing cattle, deer and other ruminants to Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) you should:

Find out how to:

Published 26 August 2014
Last updated 17 March 2023 + show all updates
  1. Added the current situation for EHD and guidance for importing animals to Great Britain.

  2. Contact details for reporting a notifiable disease updated.

  3. AHVLA documents have been re-assigned to the new Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

  4. First published.