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Bluetongue risk from imports remains high - Gildernew

7 November, 2008

Sinn Féin Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA today reinforced her message to importers to think carefully before they import any cattle and sheep that may potentially have been exposed to the bluetongue virus.

During oral questions at the Assembly the Minister said:

"I have continually urged those involved in the importation of cattle and sheep to think carefully and consider the potential consequences of bringing bluetongue here. I am pleased to say that industry representatives have supported me by reiterating that message."

She also added: "While importers have largely taken heed of this message a small number have imported cattle and sheep. Given the rapidly changing and uncertain bluetongue position in mainland Europe, importation is a risky option - a risk, not only to the individual's livestock, but to the wider agriculture industry."

Any animals imported, except from the South, are required to be kept housed and isolated until they have been tested for all strains of bluetongue and the Department is satisfied that they do not present a risk. Anyone considering importing is encouraged to contact their local DVO for advice.

DARD continues to monitor the situation carefully and is in regular contact with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in Dublin to ensure that measures throughout the island are appropriate and are sufficient to protect our bluetongue free status.

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
  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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