Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Fourth Report


Cattle TB is a significant problem in the island of Ireland, where there are extremely few disease-free areas. However the incidence of TB in Northern Ireland has shown a steady decrease in recent years. In 2002 the annual TB herd incidence was 9.93% and in 2006 the annual TB herd incidence was 6.23%.[241]

The Northern Ireland TB Control Programme includes the annual testing of all animals (with restrictions imposed on herds of farmers that do not comply) and the removal of reactors within 15 days. The cornerstone of the TB strategy is the Animal Public Health Information Service (APHIS) which provides a real-time computerised cattle tracing system for Northern Ireland and is accessible by vets, farmers and government officials. Every animal is registered on the system with a unique number. The results of TB herd tests, post mortems and all cattle movements are recorded on the system, and can be viewed online. Farmers are able to use APHIS to give advance notice of the movement of animals to market or abattoir.

The Programme does not address the issue of the wildlife reservoir, but the Badger Stakeholder Group, led by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, with membership from the farming community, environmentalists, veterinarians, and academia, has recently commissioned a badger population survey to establish data on badger numbers and their local distribution. The survey will report in May 2008. [242]

The Republic of Ireland also has a system of annual testing of the national herd, with primary responsibility for arranging testing, negotiating terms and paying for certain tests assigned to farmers. Great emphasis is placed on the importance of research into the development of a vaccine.[243]

The Republic of Ireland has also implemented a badger removal programme to tackle TB in wildlife, based on the results of two research projects (the east-Offally project and the four-area study) which had indicated a link between tuberculous badgers and the incidence of TB in cattle and which had suggested that badger removal resulted in a decline in the incidence of cattle TB in herds in the removal areas. Badgers are captured under licence, provided that the Veterinary Inspectorate (of the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government) has found that badgers were the likely source of infection in a serious outbreak in a cattle herd.

241   Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Quarterly Disease Report, Bovine brucellosis (BR), bovine tuberculosis (TB) and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), Quarterly Update: April-June 2007 Back

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243 Back

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