Northern Ireland’s chief veterinary officer, Robert Huey, would like to advise flock keepers that the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) is carrying out a veterinary investigation with the intention of controlling and stamping out a recent incursion of Maedi Visna (MV).

The MV-free status for Northern Ireland currently remains unchanged.

Chief veterinary officer Robert Huey said: “Maedi Visna has recently been detected in Northern Ireland homebred sheep and a veterinary investigation is ongoing.

“A number of flocks are currently subject to movement restrictions following tracing from an infected premises.

“Our approach remains to trace, test and remove infected animals, implementing a rigorous stamping out policy for the disease,” he continued.

“A number of options to maintain Northern Ireland disease status are currently being considered including the introduction of a Northern Ireland or all-island accreditation scheme similar to that in operation in Great Britain.

“Department officials continue to work closely with stakeholders and their counterparts in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland.

“I would continue to stress that anyone moving animals into Northern Ireland should ensure that they source stock responsibly.

“Keeping Northern Ireland free from MV is vital for our animal health and trading status.”

As part of its surveillance programme the department tests any sheep and goats moved into Northern Ireland from outside the island of Ireland for the presence of the disease.

Animals from MV accredited free flocks and from mainland Europe are sampled on arrival.

Animals imported from MV non-accredited flocks in Great Britain are sampled in isolation five months after importation.

Good biosecurity practices including strict hygiene measures are essential in preventing disease incursions of this type.