Discovery of Bluetongue in Germany a warning to stay vigilant, says UFU

Tuesday, 8 January, 2019

The Ulster Farmers’ Union says the discovery of Bluetongue in Germany is a warning to farmers in Northern Ireland to remain vigilant.

“This is the first detection of Bluetongue in Germany since 2012 and comes not long after a heifer, imported to Northern Ireland in December, tested positive for the disease. Fortunately, our import testing protocols are robust and animal was identified early and culled. The discovery of Bluetongue in Germany is a timely reminder to farmers not to become complacent. I would encourage farmers to regularly inspect their animals for Bluetongue symptoms and maintain good biosecurity,” said UFU deputy president David Brown.

The German authorities have declared a 150 km zone and exports from that region will need to be vaccinated or tested to demonstrate natural immunity before they leave the zone. DAERA routinely test all cattle imported from mainland Europe to ensure the Bluetongue virus is not present and for evidence of vaccination.

UFU deputy president David Brown says if the disease were to gain a foothold, it could come with a significant price tag. “It could cost the industry over £25 million per year. We cannot afford to be relaxed when it comes to Bluetongue,” he said.

The UFU says farmers must remain vigilant and ensure they source animals responsibly. “The best way to do this – do not import animals from high-risk Bluetongue areas. However, if you must import from a Bluetongue affected region, seek additional guarantees from the seller such as requesting pre-export testing to prove effective immunity to the virus,” said the UFU deputy president.