New virus 'could shut down our livestock industry'
BLUETONGUE disease would have a far greater impact on the country than foot and mouth - effectively shutting down the country's livestock industry - Agriculture Minister Mary Coughlan said yesterday.
If it spread to Ireland there would be a ban on the movement of all animals to slaughter on other farms, and they would have to be kept indoors at dawn and dusk because those were the hours the disease was transmitted, she said.
The minister voiced her concerns as a third animal tested positive in Britain for the disease.
The midge-borne virus was discovered near Lowestoft, Suffolk, the UK's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs confirmed.
The first two cases were found on a farm near Ipswich.
Ms Coughlan said she was "very, very seriously" concerned at the spread of bluetongue from continental Europe to Britain, but thankfully there was already a ban on animal movements from Britain because of foot and mouth.
Because bluetongue was transferred by midges rather than from animal to animal it was difficult to control and a slaughtering out policy would not work, with a vaccine or very cold weather the only real hopes.