Written answers

Thursday, 6 May 2021

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Tuberculosis Eradication Programme

Photo of Seán SherlockSeán Sherlock (Cork East, Labour)
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259. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will increase inspections being carried out for TB in the west County Wicklow area; the average number of inspections in other counties; his plans to increase the inspections in the area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23452/21]

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
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It is a requirement of the annual bovine TB Eradication programme that a farmer carry out an Annual TB herd test in conjunction with their private veterinary practitioner (PVP). Depending on the overall result of a farmer's annual herd test, the overall result of neighbouring farmers' annual herd test along with possible other causes of TB within an area, further TB testing may be required. The causes for the outbreaks of TB cases across the country are various and require a range of actions to address the problem - there is no one-size fits all approach.

Within each county, the TB programme focuses on wildlife, how disease is distributed in the area, contiguous programmes, gamma interferon testing, cleansing and disinfection, testing compliance and frequency, and isolation of reactors. Each TB outbreak is investigated by a Veterinary Inspector (VI) to identify the source of infection. In the case of every outbreak involving two or more standard reactors, there is a VI visit to advise the herd owner on how to eliminate infection and necessary measures to assist in reducing the risk of recurrence. This occurs in all relevant cases in Wicklow.

It has been a challenging year in terms of TB in Wicklow West. As of 2nd May 2021, herd incidence there is 15.79% compared to 4.26% nationally. As increased number of herds are identified as being infected, additional testing follows in a systematic way. The Department continues to implement a badger removal programme in West Wicklow as it does in other relevant areas where an epidemiological link has been established between badgers and serious cattle TB breakdowns. In order to eradicate TB in West Wicklow, the Department has engaged with farmers via a Newsletter issued in January 2021 to provide advice on steps farmers can take to reduce TB risk.

The Department is engaged with all stakeholders through the TB Forum to ensure all aspects of recently launched new Bovine TB Eradication Strategy 2021-2030 are addressed to move forward towards eradication of the disease. This new TB Strategy and further information is available on www.bovinetb.


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