HC Deb 10 June 1993 vol 226 cc307-8W
Mr. Spring

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will make a statement on the outbreak of equine viral arteritis.

Mr. Soames

On 7 June the Animal Health Trust confirmed an outbreak of equine viral arteritis (EVA) on a non-thoroughbred stud in Nottinghamshire. The trust is investigating a number of associated suspect outbreaks at various locations in Great Britain. This is the first reported incidence of EVA in the United Kingdom. The source of the infection is still under investigation and, although some reports have indicated a possible link with a stallion imported from Poland in September last year, this link has not yet been positively confirmed.

EVA is not a notifiable disease in Great Britain and statutory disease control measures and movement restrictions do not apply. Similarly, the disease is not specifically covered by EC animal health rules governing movements of equidae between member states. However, EC rules in relation to the import of equidae into the Community from third countries, to be implemented in Great Britain with effect from 1 July 1993, require that uncastrated males must either originate from countries which have been free of EVA for at least six months or the stallion blood or its semen must have been tested with negative results for EVA prior to import.

The United Kingdom equine industry operates a voluntary code of practice for the prevention and control of EVA which is issued by the Horserace Betting Levy Board. In addition, importers are free to seek from the exporter or vendor the provision of private veterinary certification in respect of EVA.

Officials attended a meeting organised by the industry last week. At that meeting it was confirmed that an application for an inactivated vaccine had been received by the veterinary medicines directorate and that it was being assessed as quickly as possible. In addition, the state veterinary service will increase the level of post import testing of stallions imported from third countries. All those giving seropositive results will be re-exported to their country of origin.

We will continue to monitor the situation extremely carefully.