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Minister Smith warns Farmers against importing Cattle or Sheep from Bluetongue Affected Areas

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, has today warned farmers against importing cattle or sheep which may have been exposed to the bluetongue virus.

The Minister's message comes as we move into the higher risk period when the midges that spread the virus are the most active. This will continue until at least November/December. Outlining his concerns, the Minister said: "The highest risk of introduction of bluetongue is via an imported animal.  The farming industry should not be complacent. Even though vaccination appears to be working in countries that have bluetongue, until the disease is eradicated there continues to be a risk from importing animals from these affected areas".

While the movement controls in place under EU legislation reduce the risk of bluetongue spread, they cannot guarantee freedom from the risk of introducing infection. "I once again urge all cattle and sheep importers not to put their farms and our livestock industry at risk by importing livestock from bluetongue affected areas" the Minister cautioned. Ireland has remained bluetongue-free and imports of animals from bluetongue affected areas are limited to certain categories. The disease situation in Europe has improved significantly with the successful use of vaccination. However, bluetongue serotypes 1 and 8 continued to circulate in Portugal, Spain and France in 2009.

Concluding, the Minister said "The risk posed by this disease is still real.  Importers are reminded that imported animals that are found positive for bluetongue on post-import testing will be slaughtered without compensation. All cattle and sheep importers should be aware of their potential financial exposure as well as the disease risk such imports may pose to the national herd".

Date Released: 10 May 2010