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Last Updated:[19-05-2009 08:56:02 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

Blue-tongue Virus Scare Forces the UAE to Impose Restrictions

tradenews The World Organisation for Animal Health’s (OIE) report on the resurfacing of the blue-tongue disease among animals in some countries of Europe has alerted the UAE to take preventive measures to contain the virus from entering the country. On reports of the disease from its import destinations, Rashid Ahmed bin Fahad, the minister of environment and water of the UAE has issued a directive to allow only livestock and related imports that fulfilled certain parameters set by the ministry.

A large portion of animal imports to the UAE come from the European countries including the UK, Portugal and Austria. There are several cases reported in the last one year from countries such as - Germany, Italy, Norway, Greece, Spain, Israel, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Algeria and Austria.

Blue-tongue virus is non-transmittable to humans and non-contagious among animals. The disease is characterised by changes to the mucous membranes of the tongue and nose, and certain types of midges are vectors of this animal disease. The ruminants including camels, cattle and sheep are chiefly susceptible to the virus.

According to new regulation, every animal arriving from blue-tongue affected countries will be individually inspected. Prior to the directive, only a random sample of about 10 per cent of each shipment had undergone inspection.

Besides, the animals should not be stung by the midges for a period not less than 28 days from the date of shipping. Regarding import of sperm, embryos and ova, the donating animals should be immunised against stings of midges for a period not less than 60 days before and during the process of collecting the sperm, ova and embryos.

However, OIE is surprised by the timing of the UAE’s move to clamp restrictions to animal imports particularly because these strains have been reported for more than a decade in Europe and the Mediterranean. Glaieul Mamaghani, deputy director of communications at the OIE asserted that the virus could not be transmitted to humans. The UAE ministry said that the effective date for the new regulation would be made known in a few days’ time.

By Jose Roy

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