Bluetongue Information 2017
As you are likely aware the threat of Bluetongue (BT) disease to the Irish livestock sector is of ongoing concern to this Department. Of particular concern, is the re-emergence of BT serotype 8 in central France in September 2015. Since that date a total of 1937 outbreaks have occurred in France. A map of Europe showing the most recent BT Restricted Zones in France and other countries is attached.
Although Bluetongue has never been detected in Irish cattle here, surveys have confirmed that we do have the vectors that are responsible for transmitting the disease (midges) and that they are active here, each year, from April through to December each year. In the event of BT being confirmed in Ireland, widespread restrictions would be put in place on the movement of ruminant animals both within Ireland and to other Member states. In addition the introduction of BT to Ireland would have a severe impact on international trade in livestock.
The most likely entry path for BT into Ireland is through the importation of BT affected animals. While there is EU legislation in place that sets out the requirements for the export of animals from BT restricted zones to other countries, there is evidence that these requirements may not always be properly or appropriately implemented. In addition, infection with milder BT serotypes (such as the current French serotype 8) may not always produce clinical signs and therefore the risk of infected animals remaining undetected pre and post importation is heightened.
While we do not import large numbers of ruminant animals into Ireland, importation of small numbers of pedigree animals, from France in particular, is relatively common. For that reason, and because we are now in the BT vector season, we would ask you to advise your members of the risk of BT introduction associated with importing animals and that you further advise them of the following potential risk mitigation measures:
• Do not import ruminant animals from BT restricted areas unless absolutely necessary (please see map of BT restricted areas in Europe in the Annex to this letter)
• Only import animals from reputable sources
• Do not buy or accept animals which have been recently imported without carefully checking their origin
• To protect their herd and their investment, they should consider seeking additional assurances to ensure that the animals are not infected with BT prior to departure, such as a recent negative PCR test for BT carried out in an accredited laboratory
• Post importation, keep any imported animals isolated and indoors until they have been tested for BT by staff from this Department* and have returned a negative test result.
Further information on these measures can be obtained from our Regional Veterinary Offices- contact details for which are available at:
Please note also that the Department’s policy is that any imported animals that test positive for BT virus will be slaughtered immediately in order to prevent onward transmission to other ruminants, irrespective of the season. The decision to pay any compensation following slaughter is discretionary and the decision on what if any compensation that may be paid will take full account of the extent that the importer implemented each and every risk mitigation measure available to him/her – before, during and after importation.
Importers are strongly advised to get professional veterinary advice when deciding to import animals into their herds.