Department warns against live imports from bluetongue countries

Anyone considering importing ruminant animals from bluetongue-affected countries should only do so if absolutely necessary, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has warned.

This is because such a move is the most likely route of introduction of the bluetongue virus into Ireland.

The department has warned that even animals with bluetongue vaccination records may harbour bluetongue, adding that infected animals may not show any clinical signs and may only be detected through testing their blood for the virus.

The high-risk period for Bluetongue in Ireland is during the vector season, which is between April and early December each year.

If bluetongue is introduced to Ireland, it could have a major impact on our export markets. Also, the control measures required by the EU legislation would have a significant impact on local herd management, the authority has said.

Source: Department of Agriculture

The department implements various measures to prevent a BT incursion including testing all ruminant animals imported from or transiting through countries restricted for bluetongue within seven days of arrival in Ireland.

According to the department’s maps, bluetongue restricted countries include parts of: Portugal; Spain; France; Germany; Switzerland; Italy; Greece; Croatia; Hungary; Slovakia; Slovenia; Bulgaria; Romania; and Cyprus.

In an update on bluetongue outbreaks in Germany, the department noted that German authorities first confirmed a case of bluetongue virus serotype 8 on December 12 last – the first case of the virus since November 2009.

As of last Thursday (January 24), 32 outbreaks of the disease had been reported in the country, the majority of which occurred in the south-west and west of Germany, near the French and Swiss borders.

Bluetongue outbreaks are also continuing in France, Switzerland, Italy and other parts of Europe, the department added.

Source: Department of Agriculture

Various types of the virus are also present in parts of the Mediterranean Basin, as well as the Balkan region, Italy, Hungary, Slovenia and Slovakia.