Bulgaria’s Agriculture and Food Ministry has held an emergency meeting on dealing with the outbreak of Bluetongue disease in parts of the country, announcing a number of steps to protect livestock from the sickness – but a group of animal breeders are unhappy with what they see as government tardiness.
Caretaker Deputy Agriculture Minister Georgi Kostov told reporters on August 21 that some of the steps were organisational, regarding liaison among various services.
Other measures were clinical ones for which veterinary services were responsible.
He said that a risk assessment report was not complete because information about the spread of the disease and the cost impact was not yet fully available.
Kostov said that 500 000 vaccines were available but a decision on purchase had not yet been made.
At the same time, local media said that breeders from around Bulgaria had filed a complaint to Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov alleging criminal inaction on the part of the government in the face of the outbreak of Bluetongue disease.
The breeders said that “criminal, derelict” behaviour on the part of the government had, after three months of inactivity, allowed an uncontrolled primary oubreak of Bluetongue disease in Ivailovgrad (southern Bulgaria) and the widespread incidence of the disease throughout the country.
“We, Bulgarian breeders, are losing our animals at breakneck speed and Bulgaria is at risk of ending up without animals,” the complaint by the group of 20 breeders to the Prosecutor-General said.
Caretaker Agriculture Minister Vassil Grudev said that the situation in the animal breeding industry was serious because of Bluetongue disease. He said that the first case had been detected at the end of June and so far had peaked between August 14 and 22.
According to Grudev, the occurrence of the disease had passed its peak but the damage remain. It would take many years to fight the consequences of the outbreak, he said.
Dimiar Zorov, head of the national cattle-breeders association and director of the national milk board, said that the damage because of Bluetongue disease would be “colossal”.