EU vets have failed to agree EU Commission plans to toughen up bluetongue movement regulations, asking for more time to consider the proposals.

The commission has suggested a number of amendments, designed to restrict the spread of bluetongue beyond existing protection zones.

In particular, it has called for a 50-day standstill for all animals after vaccination, to give sufficient time for immunity to build up.

It also wants to give member states the option to ban imports of non-vaccinated animals, with the exception of calves which may be moved between zones, so long as they have been isolated since birth and tested negative for bluetongue.

vaccine blue tongue bluetongue

Cows in early pregnancy may also be moved out of bluetongue zones under the proposal, so long as they have been vaccinated and tested negative for bluetongue.

The changes are of particular interest to Irish farmers – north and south – who have called for a total import ban on all susceptible animals that have resided in any bluetongue restricted zone since 1 August 2006.

That would include animals for slaughter.

Proposals

But Irish representatives at the EU vets meeting were not prepared to go so far. Instead, they were willing to accept the commission’s proposals for a tightening up of movement controls.

“There was no vote taken on the revised regulation – many member states were unclear about what the commission was trying to achieve and there was a lot of disagreement,” said a source close to the meeting.

“The commission services have therefore been asked to do more work on the proposal and EU vets will return to the matter next week.”

A meeting of national reference laboratories, including Pirbright, will be held in Brussels on Wednesday (2 April), to examine the regulation and the recently-approved vaccination strategies.

* French veterinarians have vaccinated the first sheep and cattle against bluetongue virus serotype 8 (BTV8), using a vaccine from animal health company Merial. This represents the first part of a 200,000 dose order announced by the French ministry of agriculture on 4 March.