It appears that there are at least 1'000 head of cattle in the Balearics affected by the blue tongue virus which swept through the Minorcan and Majorcan sheep flocks in September. Sources at the Balearic Ministry for Agriculture yesterday tried to play down this latest incident explaining that in cattle the virus does not spread and that there is no threat whatsoever to the consumer. When the virus was confirmed in the Balearics, the Ministry for Agriculture said that it could not be transmitted to cattle, but the Bulletin obtained access to a veterinary report published in Australia about the blue tongue virus and printed that it categorically stated that cattle, deer and boar were also at risk and there is also a similar virus which affects pigs. Erring on the side of caution, the Ministry for Agriculture did order that cattle be tested in the wake of the mass vaccination of sheep and of 19'280 cattle tested, 1'067 tested positive. The affected cattle have been separated from their herds in order to prevent the virus spreading to sheep all over again. The virus has an incubation period of between 60 and 80 days and once that period has transpired, another round of exhaustive tests will be carried out in order to confirm that the blue tongue virus is not being carried by Balearic livestock. The Ministry was keen to repeat yesterday that the virus poses no health risk and that beef is fine for consumption.