Balearic Agriculture Minister Mateu Morro got stuck in to a leg of Minorcan lamb yesterday in a bid to try and revive consumer confidence in Balearic lamb which has seen sales drop severely in the wake of the Blue Tongue virus outbreak which is killing thousands of sheep in Majorca and Minorca. Morro, on an official visit to Minorca, where he has been criticised over the handling of the outbreak and or ordering the widespread slaughter of sheep, announced that island-wide vaccination operation will start on Monday with the arrival of 10'000 South African vaccines on the island. Police are also standing by to swing into action in a bid to help the 40 teams of vets administer the 400'000 vaccines as quickly as possible, however the operation is expected to take the best part of a month to complete. But Morro also announced yesterday that within the next two weeks, Minorca's cattle herds are to be tested to see if any of the animals are carrying the Blue Tongue virus. When the outbreak was first revealed, the Agriculture Ministry stated that the virus cannot be transmitted to cattle, but as the Bulletin revealed two weeks ago, in depth studies in the “exotic virus” in the United States and in particular in Australia, report that the Blue Tongue virus, of which there are 24 different strains each of varying strengths, effect sheep, goats, cattle as well as buffalo and reindeer. Morro yesterday praised the efforts and response to the outbreak by the Minorcan Insular Council for Agriculture, adding that the authorities have acted with the full support of the European Commission's Animal Health department.


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