Bluetongue Virus and Culicoides in India

Bluetongue (BT) is an infectious, non-contagious disease of ruminants which inflicts major losses on subsistence sheep farmers in southern India. The agent that causes this disease (bluetongue virus: BTV), is largely transmitted by tiny flies called Culicoides biting midges. IBVNet examines ways to both predict and reduce the impact of BTV by monitoring monsoon-related Culicoides activity and exploring affordable methods for their control.

IBVNet is a three year Indo-UK collaborative project jointly funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Scottish Government via the Combating Infectious Diseases of Livestock for International Development (CIDLID) initiative. It is coordinated by the Entomology group based at The Pirbright Institute (TPI) and through the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) funded All India Network Project on Bluetongue (AINP-BT). This new collaboration will allow the first multi-state surveys of Culicoides populations to be carried out in India, complimenting research already being carried out by AINP-BT on vaccination strategies.

What will IBVNet Provide?

  • Tools that can be utilised to predict the likelihood and severity of BTV outbreaks relating to monsoon conditions and Culicoides populations.
  • An understanding of which Culicoides species are involved in BTV transmission in each region and detailed knowledge regarding their ecology.
  • Quantitative data regarding the efficacy of control techniques for Culicoides already in use and, in the mid-term, production of novel methods through an understanding of host location in vector species.
  • A clearer understanding of the epidemiology of Orbivirus outbreaks to inform present and future vaccination campaigns.
  • Project Work Packages

    WP 1: What are the climatic and host factors that drive geographical variation in BTV incidence in southern India?

    WP 2: What are the key environmental parameters that drive Culicoides species distribution and bionomics in southern India?

    WP3: Which Culicoides vector species are responsible for the transmission of BTV in southern India?

    WP 4: How do Culicoides locate farm ruminants in southern India and can these processes be exploited to reduce biting rates on BTV susceptible hosts?

    WP 5: Can informed intervention strategies be used to reduce the probability of BTV transmission in subsistence farms in southern India?


    11th July 2014 Version 2 of The Pirbright Institute Culicoides DNA Barcoding Initiatives Protocols Handbook now avaliable here

    22nd April 2014 New version of key for females of the subgenus Avaritia of India published from Dr Glenn Bellis available herehere

    1st - 5th July 2013 BBSRC funded International Training Programme on Bluetongue Vector Identification 'Reaching a consensus on Culicoides taxonomic identification in India' to be held at TANUVAS click for further details


    4th October 2012 The Institute for Animal Health becomes The Pirbright Institute, click for further details

    20th August 2012 'India Bluetongue Vector Network: Molecular and Morphological Taxonomy of South Indian Culicoides' presentation at the XXIV International Congress of Entomology, Daegu, Korea (ICE2012)

    23rd July to 3rd August 2012 International training on 'Collection and Morphological Identification of Bluetongue Virus Vectors' held at TANUVAS, Chennai, IAH-VB, Bangalore and Sri Venkateswara Veterinary University, Hyderabad, India

    14-15th March 2012 International training on 'Molecular Analysis of Bluetongue Virus Vectors' held at Lala Lajpat Rai University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences Hisar, India (LLRUVAS)