Ruminants should not be imported from bluetongue countries unless necessary

Cattle imported into Ireland totalled 15,708 in 2016, 12,648 in 2017, and 8,478 in 2018, up to October.

Most of the animals were imported from Northern Ireland for slaughter in the south.

However, they also included breeding cattle from various EU member states, totalling 4,365 in 2016, 3,134 in 2017, and 2,227 this year, up to October.

Breeding animals came in the past three years from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and the UK.

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed gave the bovine import data in the Dail in response to a question from Fianna Fail agriculture spokesman Charlie McConalogue.

Meanwhile, farmers in Northern Ireland have been warned to think carefully before importing susceptible animals from bluetongue-affected areas.

Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Robert Huey urged farmers to remain vigilant, after bluetongue disease was detected in a heifer imported from France, during a stringent post-import testing regime.

The bluetongue virus is circulating in Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus. France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, and Switzerland,

The Department of Agriculture here says ruminants should not be imported from bluetongue countries unless absolutely necessary, as this is the most likely route of introduction of the bluetongue virus into Ireland.

Bluetongue in Ireland could have a major impact on our exports and on local herd management.

There has never been an outbreak of bluetongue in the Republic of Ireland.

One animal tested positive in a batch of nine imported from France to holdings across Northern Ireland.

The affected farm was put under restriction as veterinary investigations continued to prevent the risk of disease spread.

The infected animal has been culled humanely.

It is not a confirmed outbreak, because there is no evidence the disease is circulating in Northern Ireland.

Therefore, the UK’s official free from bluetongue status since 2011 remains intact.

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