Written answers

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Department of Agriculture and Food

Animal Diseases

9:00 pm

Photo of Andrew DoyleAndrew Doyle (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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Question 234: To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in view of the fact that 15% of Wicklow herds are restricted and that there are eight reactors per thousand in Wicklow as opposed to a national average of three per thousand, if he will give details of the measures he has taken and the resources he has put in place to deal with this matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36554/10]

Photo of Brendan SmithBrendan Smith (Minister, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fail)
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There are 1,083 herds in the Wicklow East region, 75% of which has been tested to date this year. The number of new herd restrictions is 127 compared with 77 at the same time last year. The number of reactors disclosed since 1 January is 641, compared with 365 for the same period last year. The average number of reactors per thousand tests in Wicklow East is, at 8 reactors per thousand tests, well above the national average of 2.5 per thousand. This is partly due to the fact that the region has experienced a number of very large breakdowns, with one herd alone disclosing 121 reactors. In addition, 56% of the reactors in the region came from just 11 herds and 8 of those herds involved breakdowns that disclosed more than 20 reactors.

I can assure the deputy that the testing programme is on schedule and the District Veterinary Office is performing epidemiological assessments in the region including, where applicable, the use of gamma interferon blood testing. The District Veterinary office is also assessing the specific resource requirements as part of the re-organisation of the local office network and, subject to budgetary constraints, additional resources will be assigned to the region if this is deemed necessary. I am satisfied that all appropriate measures are being taken to deal with the disease situation in the region and that the area is being very closely monitored by my Department.

Photo of Andrew DoyleAndrew Doyle (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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Question 235: To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason the strain trials of TB cases has ceased at the State Laboratory in Backweston; his plans to have this service resumed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36556/10]

Photo of Brendan SmithBrendan Smith (Minister, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fail)
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My Department’s Laboratory Service provides a range of diagnostic services for the tuberculosis eradication programme, including culture and/or histopathological examination of samples, tests on blood samples to aid the diagnosis to TB and Spoligotyping, to determine the strain type for M. bovis isolates. This latter service is used in particular for research and investigation of TB outbreaks in certain areas or regions. With regard to the trials referred to, a collaborative study between the Dublin District Veterinary Office and the Regional Veterinary Laboratory was undertaken in 2009 in the context of an increase in TB levels in the Wicklow area. The objective of the study was to estimate the prevalence of M. bovis infection in deer and badgers in three selected project areas and to compare the strains types in cattle deer and badgers.

The study has been completed. It found that there was one predominant strain in the deer and badger isolates and that this strain was also found in a high proportion of the cattle isolates. This strain has not been identified outside of Wicklow. Two other strain types, also unique to Wicklow, shared the same spoligotype. Strain typing is an ancillary support to a range of measures undertaken by my Department and is performed where deemed necessary.

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