Objective To report the rapid transmission of bovine ephemeral fever (BEF) virus from north-western New South Wales south to the Victorian border in January 2008 and to present data that suggests an uncommon meteorological event caused this rapid southward dispersal of vectors.
Procedure The locations of reported clinical cases, data from sentinel herds and results from a survey of cattle in the southern affected area were examined to delineate the distribution of virus transmission. Synoptic weather charts for January 2008 were examined for meteorological conditions that may have favoured movement of vectors in a southerly direction.
Results Cases of BEF and exposure to BEF virus in NSW were confirmed west of the Great Dividing Range, extending from the Queensland border to Finley, on the far North Coast and around the Hunter Valley. A low-pressure system moved south across the state on 18–19 January 2008, preceding the first cases of BEF in the south of NSW by 1–2 days.
Conclusion Heavy rainfall in December 2007 provided a suitable environment for vector breeding, resulting in the initiation of and support for continuing BEF virus transmission in north-western NSW. The movement of a low-pressure system south across central western NSW in mid-January 2008 after the commencement of BEF virus transmission in the north-west of the state provided a vehicle for rapid southward movement of infected vectors.