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Brussels, 21 August 2006

Bluetongue: Commission Decision on precautionary measures backed by Member States

A Commission Decision on protection measures to be taken against Bluetongue was backed by Member State veterinary experts in the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health this afternoon. The Decision was drawn up in response to the recent outbreaks of this disease in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany (see IP/06/1113). The 150km surveillance zone is formally defined and listed in the Annex of the Decision, covering most of the Netherlands and Belgium, all of Luxembourg and areas in the German Lander of North Rhine Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland and Hessen. Ruminants and their semen, embryos and ova, produced after 1 May 2006, cannot be moved out of the listed areas. Within the surveillance zone, certain exemptions for transit and domestic slaughter apply, subject to strict controls.

In addition to the movement ban and measures to be applied within the defined 150km zone, the Decision states that, if necessary, Member States should also apply certain precautionary measures in other parts of their territories, including additional examinations and controls.

Tests are still ongoing to determine the strain of the virus that caused the Bluetongue outbreaks and the Commission is in close contact with all Member States concerned. Spain and Italy are providing expert assistance to the affected Member States. The situation will be reviewed again by the Standing Committee next week.

The Commission will now formalise the decision as quickly as possible, but Member States are invited to apply its provisions with immediate effect.
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