Northern Ireland Farmers ‘Must Stay Vigilant’ For Bluetongue

Local farmers have been urged to be vigilant following confirmation that cattle recently imported to England from France have tested positive for Bluetongue.

The infected cattle entered the UK earlier this month and the virus was detected during routine post-movement testing.

Bluetongue is a contagious, insect-borne viral disease. It is spread by insects and affects animals such as cattle, goats, deer and sheep.

The virus does not pose a threat to human health but it can have a serious impact on animal health causing reduced milk yields, infertility and even death.

Signs of the disease are eye and nasal discharge, drooling, swelling around the head or mouth, lethargy and lameness.

Northern Ireland chief veterinary officer Dr Robert Huey said: “While the UK’s robust disease surveillance procedures have worked, the latest identification of the virus reminds farmers for the need to remain vigilant and highlights the risks of importing animals from disease-affected areas into their herds.

“The main risk to Northern Ireland remains the import of infected animals or germ plasm (semen or ova).

“Farmers should consider the potentially severe consequences of importing animals from, or transiting through, Bluetongue affected countries or zones.

“The risk is not only to themselves but to our whole industry as trade can be badly affected as a result.

“It is vital that all of us continue to work hard to keep Bluetongue out.”