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Bluetongue detected in imported animal

15 February, 2008


Sinn Féin Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA, today confirmed that bluetongue has been detected in an animal imported from the Netherlands.

The animal has tested positive for the virus following routine post-import testing undertaken by DARD.

Minister Gildernew said:

"I acted decisively yesterday following suspicion of disease, to have the animal slaughtered to minimise any risk to other livestock.

"I have restricted the herd and all of the animals will now be tested for any other evidence of infection. The Department will also now be tracing and testing associated herds. Meanwhile an epidemiological investigation has begun to assess the situation. This investigation will help determine if disease is circulating but at this time there is no evidence to suggest that it is.

"Therefore at this time the North's 'bluetongue free' status remains."

The Minister said:

"I cannot stress enough the importance of farmers remaining vigilant for signs of the disease. I would continue to urge all farmers to think very carefully before importing susceptible animals from Bluetongue infected countries. Remember, if you import an infected animal DARD will NOT pay compensation if that animal has to be slaughtered. That advice is now more important than ever - it is the responsibility of farmers to ensure they do not bring Bluetongue to the North." ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS:


This is the first time Bluetongue has been detected in the North of Ireland. DARD officials are working to minimise the risk of disease spreading. An outbreak is only confirmed when a country finds that the infection is circulating. Therefore at this time the North of Ireland remains officially bluetongue free.

An epidemiological investigation has begun and will continue on the premises for the next few days.

The Bluetongue leaflet and a Question and Answer guide is available on the DARD website at: http://www.dardni.gov.uk/index/animal-health/animal-diseases/blue-tongue.htm

Bluetongue is an insect-borne viral disease to which all species of ruminants are susceptible, although sheep are most severely affected. However, cattle are the main mammalian reservoir of the virus and are very important in the epidemiology of the disease. It is characterised by changes to the mucous linings of the mouth and nose and the coronary band of the foot. Bluetongue is declared to be present in a country when it is confirmed by laboratory tests that the Bluetongue virus (BTV) is circulating in the animal population.

Anyone who knows or suspects that any animal or carcase in his possession, under his charge or being examined or inspected by him is infected with Bluetongue is required under the Bluetongue Order (NI) 2003 to notify the Divisional Veterinary Office.

Commission Regulation (EC) No 1266/2007 lays down the specific measures for control of Bluetongue.

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