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Northern Ireland urges vigilance following Schmallenberg reports
Signs of SBV in cattle include fever, inappetence and a reduced milk yield.
Fourteen cases have been presented for testing

Farmers in Northern Ireland are being urged to be vigilant for signs of Schmallenberg virus (SBV) after 14 cases were presented to the Agro-Food and Biosciences Institute for testing.

Speaking to Farmers Weekly, Ulster Farmers’ Union president Barclay Bell said: “It is concerning that there are a growing number of reports of this virus being found in Northern Ireland. It is an awful situation for any farmer. No one wants to see Schmallenberg on their farm.”

Although SBV is not a notifiable disease in Northern Ireland, the government is advising farmers to approach their vet if they spot any signs of the disease in their sheep or cattle. These include fever, inappetence, a reduced milk yield and diarrhoea.

SBV first emerged in November 2011 and has since spread throughout Europe. It is transmitted by biting midges and causes severe deformities in calves, lambs and kids.

Sheep are most at risk of catching SBV in their second month of pregnancy, whilst cattle are more likely to contract the disease during their third to fifth month of pregnancy. So far this year, there have not been any confirmed cases of the disease in England.

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UK a step closer to ivory ban

News Story 1
 A UK ban on ivory sales is one step closer to coming into force, as the government has introduced the Ivory Bill to parliament. The ban covers items of all ages, rather than just ivory carved after 1947. Anyone breaching the ban will face an unlimited fine or up to five years in jail.

Conservationists have welcomed the bill, which comes less than six weeks after the government published the results of a consultation on this issue. Around 55 African elephants are now slaughtered for their ivory every day and the illegal wildlife trade is estimated to be worth £17 billion a year.  

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News Shorts
Strategic alliance to support development of agri-food sector

The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and Queen’s University Belfast have formed a new strategic alliance that will see both institutions form a research and education partnership.

Under the agreement, the organisations will pool their resources and expertise to support the development of the agri-food sector. It will work across three core themes: enabling innovation, facilitating new ways of working and partnerships.