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de Brún welcomes Ministers' decision to order Bluetongue vaccine

14 May, 2008


Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has welcomed this week's announcement by DARD Minister Michelle Gildernew, MP, MLA who is to seek the necessary resources to order a Bluetongue vaccine.

The announcement was made after the Minister briefed the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee on her proposal to order almost 2 million doses of vaccine for use if there is an outbreak of bluetongue disease in the Six Counties.

Ms de Brún said

"It is my understanding that EU rules only allow vaccination within a protection zone. The North does not have Bluetongue disease meaning we are not in a protection zone therefore pre-emptive vaccination is not an option.

"In the event that there is an outbreak of Bluetongue here and the department authorizes the use of vaccine, the programme will aim to minimize the economic impact of the disease on the industry by reducing the clinical signs and limiting the geographical spread of the infection.

"To maximize the benefit of vaccination, at least 80% of susceptible animals must be vaccinated. The Minister is proposing a compulsory vaccination programme should Bluetongue arrive here in the North and become established here. The most cost effective way to do this is with farmers purchasing and administering the vaccine themselves in tandem with a veterinary audit.

"The minister has stressed that farmers should not be complacent and should continue to do everything they can to prevent the disease coming here in the first place. We should not relax our guard and this means taking every possible precaution to continue to keep bluetongue out of the Six Counties. But Michelle Gildernew is right to prepare for the possibility that, in spite of our best efforts, the disease could arrive." ENDS

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