§ Dr. Strang
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) when she was first made aware of the incidence of Venezuelan equine encephalitis in Mexico; and what evidence she has as to the regional incidence of Venezuelan equine encephalitis in Mexico:.
(2) from what date the ban on the importation of horses from Mexico to the United Kingdom and the EU was introduced; what reasons were given for the introduction of the ban; what consideration was given to the implementation of the ban on a regional basis; and when she expects the ban to be reconsidered.
§ Mr. Waldegrave
My Department first learned of the outbreak of Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis in Mexico on 3 August 1993 on receipt of the OIE Disease Information Bulletin, volume 6, No. 29 of 30 July 1993. According to the OIE Bulletin, the geographical areas affected by the outbreaks were several districts in the state of Chiapas.
EC animal health rules regarding the importation into the Community of equine animals from third countries, directive 90/426/EC, prohibit the importation of animals from countries or parts thereof which have not been free of Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis for at least two years. As from the date the outbreak of Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis was confirmed the Mexican veterinary authorities would not have been able to sign the required official health certification confirming, amongst other things, that Mexico had been free of Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis for at least two years. Therefore, any importation into the Community of equine animals from Mexico after the initial outbreak would have been contrary to EC law.
On 21 September 1993 the EC Commision adopted Commission decision 93/507/EC formalising the prohibition on imports from Mexico until further notice. In the light of specific animal health guarantees provided by the Mexican veterinary authorities, on 27 July 1994 the EC Commission adopted Commission decision 94/478/EC which permits the re-importation into the Community from the metropolitan area of Monterrey, Mexico of registered horses which have been temporarily exported from the EC.