Turkey ends embargo as Austria free from blue tongue virus

Turkey has started to import cattle from Austria again after having decided to stop doing so amid fears animals were infected with the blue tongue disease last month.The Lower Austrian Agricultural Chamber announced today (Fri) Turkish officials decided to lift the ban which was implemented after a laboratory test showed that at least one cow imported from Austria was infected with the virus.Blue tongue disease is a non-contagious, insect-borne viral disease. The affliction – which poses no danger to humans – can cause ruminants to lose their fertility.Agricultural chamber officials said today decision-makers in Brussels, Belgium, officially declared Austria as a country free from blue tongue virus. They added it was important to keep up preventive measures to retain this status.These announcements come only weeks after a Tyrolean farmer said he was ready to go to jail over a dispute regarding the vaccination of his herd.Albin Wegscheider from the town of Oberhofen said he refused to have his cows and sheep protected against blue tongue disease amid fears the vaccine may negatively affect the animals’ health. The famer stressed that the drug’s information leaflet warned side effects could not be excluded.Provincial officials said Wegscheider may go to jail for three days if he does not pay a 350-Euro penalty.