Greece has clamped down sharply on movements of livestock on the Aegean island of Kos, to prevent the bluetongue virus spreading to other islands and the Greek mainland.
The measures follow reports of 10 cases of the virus being discovered in sheep and one in goats on the eastern Aegean island, which is just 4km from the Turkish coast.
Spiros Doudounakis, director of the animal health directorate at the Ministry of Rural Development and Food told GlobalMeatNews.com that all the cases were in commercial farms and that “all appropriate measures provided by the European [Union] regulations and the directives have been taken”. These include movement controls of live animals, with no animal allowed to be transferred for any reason other than to be slaughtered. Where the slaughter is to happen remotely, for instance on mainland Greece, livestock will be allowed transfer only directly to the slaughterhouse, said Doudounakis.
Meanwhile, Kos farmers have been advised to put into quarantine and slaughter immediately any animals that show signs of the disease. But Doudounakis said farmers could decide whether to isolate sick animals or slaughter them. But as the meat from the animals is still fit for human consumption (the disease is not transferable to humans) farmers should perhaps slaughter them as soon as possible to prevent loss of income, he said.
Doudounakis pointed out that the Greek islands of eastern Aegean, such as the Dodecanese (including Kos), Chios, Samos, Lesvos (affected last year by the disease) are the most vulnerable to the bluetongue virus as the disease is carried by mosquitoes from neighbouring Turkey. As a non-European Union (EU) member, Turkey does not have to comply with EU animal health regulations.