There are no plans to roll out a bluetongue vaccine in Ireland at present, the Department of Agriculture has said.

A Department spokesperson told the Irish Farmers Journal, the bluetongue situation is being monitored closely and keeping the virus out of the island of Ireland is a main priority.

“Ireland continues to be free of bluetongue virus and a strong focus must be on seeking to ensure that it is not brought on to the island,” they said.

A vaccine for bluetongue virus serotype-three (BTV-3) was approved in the Netherlands recently, with this vaccine currently only available there.

The Dutch approved the vaccine under an EU regulation, which allows an authority to use an immunological veterinary medicinal product not authorised within the wider bloc.

High probability

Meanwhile, the British government has confirmed there is a “very high probability” of bluetongue re-entering the country this year through midges, which spread the virus.

“There is a very high probability of a new introduction of BTV-3 into livestock in Britain through infected biting midges being blown over from northern Europe.

“Biting midges are most active between April and November and the timing of a potential incursion will depend on the temperature and wind patterns,” it said.

BTV-3 was detected in the Netherlands in September 2023. Two months later it was identified in the UK, sparking a widespread ban on all cattle, sheep and other ruminants from being imported on to the island of Ireland from Britain.