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Gildernew confirms new strain of Bluetongue in Europe

28 October, 2008


Sinn Féin Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA has reinforced her message not to import potentially infected stock from any area affected by Bluetongue.

The Minister's message comes as it is confirmed that Bluetongue Serotype 6 (BTV6) has been found in cattle in the Netherlands. This is the first time that this strain of virus has been detected in animals in Europe. Currently the Dutch authorities have banned the export of all animals for fattening and breeding as a precaution while investigations are carried out. At present there is no inactivated vaccine for BTV6.

Re-iterating her previous messages regarding vigilance against this disease the Minister said:

"We must continue to be careful. The greatest risk of introducing Bluetongue to the North continues to be through importation of infected animals. Any animal imported from a bluetongue zone has the potential to introduce the disease and lead to its subsequent spread. This would have serious economic consequences for our livestock industry."

These latest developments about Bluetongue will be discussed at a meeting of the Standing Committee of Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH) on Tuesday 28 October 2008 when any measures considered necessary to halt the spread of this new strain will be discussed.

The Minister said:

"All farmers, importers and transporters need to act responsibly. They should think very seriously about the potential disease risk from importing animals. Essentially, they must consider whether it is worth risking the animal health status of this island."

Farmers should continue to remain vigilant for signs of disease and report any concerns to their own veterinarian or local Divisional Veterinary Office.

Note to editors

  1. DARD reviews and updates its Veterinary Risk Assessment on an ongoing basis in light of new developments, to ensure the measures in place are appropriate and timely.
  2. DARD is continuing to work in partnership with key stakeholders to mitigate the threat of Bluetongue incursion.
  3. Industry stakeholders have also called for farmers to act responsibly.
  4. The Bluetongue leaflet which outlines the clinical signs of Bluetongue is available on the DARD website. A Question and Answer guide to Bluetongue is available on the DARD website at www.dardni.gov.uk
  5. The Bluetongue virus is spread by midges which transfer the virus from animal to animal by biting them. The first detection of Bluetongue in Britain was reported on 22 September 2007.
  6. Advice on the treatment of animals and vehicles with insecticide is on the DARD website.

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