''I can now confirm we do have bluetongue virus circulating in this country,'' Landeg told a news conference.
Landeg said a combination of surveillance results and new cases indicated there had been ''recent infection'' providing the first evidence the virus was circulating in the local animal population.
The first case of bluetongue ever reported in Britain was discovered last weekend in Suffolk, southeastern England.
The virus, mostly found in Mediterranean countries, causes fever and mouth ulcers and in some cases turns an animal's tongue blue. It is transmitted by insects such as midges and can be highly dangerous to sheep and cows, although it does not affect humans.
Reuters AE DB2112