Northern Ireland

NI chief vet warns holiday makers of animal disease risk

An image at a farm showing a sign blocking off because of foot and mouth infection
Image caption Mr Huey warns of the dangers to local livestock of bringing non-EU produce into Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland's chief vet has warned holidaymakers about the dangers of bringing animal and plant diseases home with them.

It is illegal to bring dairy and meat produce from outside the EU into Northern Ireland.

Robert Huey said if something like foot-and-mouth disease was accidentally introduced it would have huge animal welfare and economic costs.

He urged those travelling abroad to check the rules at ports and airports.

Checks are in place at points of entry.

Any banned goods are seized and destroyed and the person responsible is liable to prosecution and a fine.

Risk to trade and jobs

As well as meat and dairy produce there are strict controls on things like potatoes, plants, fish, honey, eggs and certain fruit and vegetables.

Foot-and-mouth could be introduced through the import of infected meat and dairy produce.

"Should a major disease such as that enter Northern Ireland trade and jobs will be at risk," said Mr Huey.

Northern Ireland last had an outbreak of foot-and-mouth in 2001.

It led to a widespread cull of livestock, the cancellation of public gatherings and other restrictions.

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