Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Questions (1024)

Cathal Crowe


1024. Deputy Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps his Department will take to prevent the equine herpes virus from entering Ireland (details supplied). [13142/21]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department is monitoring the on-going outbreak of Equine Herpesvirus-1 in horses in continental Europe. My officials met with representatives of Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) and the Irish Equine Centre (IEC) to develop an appropriate risk mitigating response. HSI, in consultation with my Department and the IEC have published a protocol for sport horses arriving in Ireland from high risk areas of Europe outlining the measures that horse owners should take to mitigate the risk of spread. I strongly endorse the recommendations in this protocol that requires all those competing horses, on returning to Ireland, to isolate and carry out two tests prior to completing quarantine. This is critical to the protection of our sector.

Whilst Equine Herpesvirus-1 is not a notifiable disease, given the extent that the virus seems to have spread across Europe and the description of the clinical outcome, I would urge all players in the equine industry to respond to the increased risk that this poses to the equine population in Ireland and to double down on their biosecurity practices and measures.

My officials continue to liaise closely with industry stakeholders and colleagues in Northern Ireland on this matter.