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Minister Coughlan gives further update on FMD

Following a meeting of her Department's National Disease Control Centre Management Committee, the Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan T.D., expressed her relief at reports that initial test results for samples taken from a herd around which a 3km protection zone had been placed last night were negative for FMD. The Minister noted, however, that further test results from the herd were due later today.

The Minister said that she and her officials had considered the implications of a positive test result and had concluded that while it would have been a concerning development, it would not have warranted the imposition of further control measures over and above those already in place here.

Minister Coughlan said that she had been in contact with her officials late last night, as soon as news of the suspect case was confirmed, and that they had been maintaining very close contact with colleagues in London and Belfast ahead of confirmation of the negative test results today.

Minister Coughlan said that last night's prompt action by the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) demonstrated the seriousness with which they were treating each suspect case and clearly illustrated the need for everybody, both in Britain and here in Ireland, to remain on high alert and the absolute necessity for farmers, in particular, to remain vigilant and to regularly check the well-being of their stock and to report to the Department any signs that might be suggestive of FMD.

Today's meeting also considered an interim epidemiology report published by DEFRA and the Minister said she welcomed, in particular, the view of the UK's Chief Veterinary Officer today that 'the infection may be contained in the Surrey area.'

Minister Coughlan confirmed that her Department had published updated biosecurity advice for the organisers of agricultural, livestock and horse shows as well as marts and other such events and urged all concerned to apply proper biosecurity measures and, in particular, to provide adequate cleaning and disinfection developments. The Minister said that her Department would be contacting show organisers and checking to ensure that existing biosecurity measures are satisfactory at marts and assembly centres.

The Minister also drew attention to a range of advice in relation to the FMD which is available on the Department's dedicated FMD website and advised anybody with any queries regarding the outbreak or the implementation of the EU Commission Decision to contact the Department's FMD Helpline - 1890 252 283.

10 August, 2007

Date Released: 10 August 2007