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NI vets praised for rapid response to ASF traces
ASF outbreaks have been confirmed in countries such as Belgium, Bulgaria and China.
DNA fragments found in seized passenger luggage 

BVA president Simon Doherty has praised vets and inspectors in Northern Ireland for rapidly detecting traces of African swine fever (ASF) in passenger luggage at airports.

DAERA announced last week that more than 300kg of illegal meat and dairy products were seized at Northern Ireland airports in June. A sample of these were tested at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, revealing fragments of ASF DNA.

ASF can be easily transmitted in infected pork products and outbreaks have been confirmed in countries such as Belgium, Bulgaria and China. Northern Ireland has strict controls banning personal imports of meat and dairy products from most countries outside the EU.

Mr Doherty commented: “It’s very encouraging to see that government vets and inspectors are united in their vigilance to prevent the incursion of this deadly disease. We are fortunate in Northern Ireland to have a surveillance facility like AFBI that can carry out quick and effective testing and continuous monitoring for disease risks.

“African Swine Fever poses a significant and growing threat to animal welfare and agriculture throughout all regions of the UK, so we need to continue to make every effort to curb its spread and raise public awareness of the risks of bringing animal products that may be carrying the disease into the country.

“The seizure of 300 kg of illegally imported products in June alone really underlines the scale of this important task ahead.”

DAERA said that the discovery of ASF fragments in imported products does not pose a significant threat to Northern Ireland’s animal health status. However, it underlines the importance of controls placed on personal imports of meat and dairy products.

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Endangered turtles rescued from smugglers

News Story 1
 A group of endangered turtles have found a new home at London Zoo after being rescued from smugglers.

The four big-headed turtles arrived at the zoo at the end of last year, after smugglers tried to illegally import them to Canada, labelled as toys.

One of the turtles, named Lady Triệu after a Vietnamese warrioress, has moved to a new exhibit in the zoo’s reptile house. She is the only one of her kind in a UK zoo.

Big-headed turtles have such large heads that they cannot pull them back into their shells. To compensate, they have armour plating from head to tail and a very sharp beak to fend off predators. They are ranked number 18 on ZSL’s EDGE of Existence reptile list, which puts threatened species at the forefront of conservation action. Image © ZSL  

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RCVS Fellowship board chair elections get underway

Voting for the 2019 RCVS Fellowship Chair election is now underway. This year four candidates are standing for election, including Dr Robert Huey, Professor John Innes, Professor Liz Mossop and Professor Ian Ramsey.

The Chair will attend and preside over Fellowship meetings and take the lead in consolidating the Fellowship’s position as the learned society of the RCVS. Fellows will receive an email containing a link to the online voting form, as well as candidates’ details and manifestos. Voting closes at 5pm on Thursday, 5 September.