The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has welcomed the quick response from government vets and inspectors who detected traces of African Swine Fever in animal products brought into Northern Ireland airports in passenger luggage.
According to a statement released by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), 300 kg of illegal meat and dairy products, detected in passenger luggage, was seized by DAERA portal officials at Northern Ireland’s airports in June alone. Traces of African Swine Fever were detected in samples of the seized products after being sent to the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) for testing.
African Swine Fever poses no health risk to humans but is highly contagious and usually fatal in pigs. The disease can be easily transmitted in infected pork products, and outbreaks have been confirmed in countries including Belgium, Bulgaria and China. Northern Ireland has imposed strict controls prohibiting personal imports of meat and dairy products from most countries outside of the EU.
Simon Doherty, BVA President, said: “It’s very encouraging to see that government vets and inspectors are united in their vigilance to prevent the incursion of this deadly disease. We are fortunate in Northern Ireland to have a surveillance facility like AFBI that can carry out quick and effective testing and continuous monitoring for disease risks.
“African Swine Fever poses a significant and growing threat to animal welfare and agriculture throughout all regions of the UK, so we need to continue to make every effort to curb its spread and raise public awareness of the risks of bringing animal products that may be carrying the disease into the country. The seizure of 300 kg of illegally imported products in June alone really underlines the scale of this important task ahead.”