Bluetongue warning from chief vet

Robert Huey
Robert Huey

Northern Ireland’s Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Robert J Huey, pictured, is urging herd and flock keepers to avoid sourcing animals from Continental Europe, especially France, where the area has been affected by Bluetongue.

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) is reminding farmers that imported animals subsequently found to be infected with Bluetongue will be slaughtered and no compensation will be paid.

Dr Huey said: “Northern Ireland is more at risk from Bluetongue due to farmers importing animals than from windborne spread of the disease from mainland Europe.

“If you choose to bring animals into Northern Ireland from a disease free zone via a Bluetongue infected zone you must ensure you comply with all the conditions on the export health certificate. This should include the treatment of animals and vehicles with an approved insecticide and ensuring all parts of the health certificate for the imported animals have been met.

“You should avoid importing animals from a Bluetongue infected area. In the unlikely event of this having to take place the animals must have been vaccinated against Bluetongue prior to import to Northern Ireland. If the animals are pregnant then the vaccination must have been carried out before conception. Again these conditions along with insecticide treatment of animals and vehicles must be attested to by the certifying Veterinarian on the Health Certificate.”

Farmers should not be complacent to the risks of the Bluetongue virus, both BTV-4 and BTV-8 strains, when considering the import of livestock from Continental Europe, especially France. The whole of France is now a Restricted Zone for both the BTV-4 and BYV-8 strains of the Bluetongue virus.

It is vitally important to the industry in Northern Ireland that farmers consider the potentially adverse consequences of importing animals from or transiting through Bluetongue affected countries or zones.

Further information on Bluetongue, including clinical signs and questions and answers can be obtained from the DAERA website: https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/articles/bluetongue or by contacting your local DAERA Direct Regional Office on: 0300 200 7840