Farmers have been dealt a fresh blow as the deadly bluetongue virus is confirmed in the UK for the first time.

The virus, which is transmitted by midges, had been confirmed in one cow at a site near Ipswich, Suffolk, Defra said.

The detected strain, Serotype 8, is the same strain which has spread through cattle herds and sheep flocks in north-west Europe, including France, Germany, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

“This is not a confirmed outbreak unless further investigation demonstrates that disease is circulating, and this could take days or weeks to assess,” said chief veterinary officer Debby Reynolds.

“The premises where bluetongue was detected remains under restrictions, and epidemiological investigations are being carried out to assess the situation,” she added.

Earlier this month, senior industry figures told The Grocer that an outbreak of bluetongue in the UK would have a serious effect on the country's meat supply because of the cattle movement restrictions required by the European Commission.

The news comes as farmers continue to remain on high alert for foot and mouth disease. A further case was confirmed over the weekend and a possible case was being investigated at a farm in Petersfield, Hampshire.

The confirmed case was identified at a site within the existing protection zone in Surrey. It is the sixth since the original outbreak last month.