Could two annual TB tests become a reality to eradicate the disease?

In order to eradicate Bovine Tuberculosis (TB) by 2030, the Department of Agriculture might introduce two annual TB tests.

Speaking to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture last week, Dr. Margaret Good, Senior Superintending Veterinary Inspector at Department Of Agriculture, said that eradicating TB by 2030 poses ‘a challenge’.

Bringing in two annual tests would only take place in areas where there are high incidences of TB, she said, but the Department has made no decisions on this or any other additional steps to eradicate the disease yet.

The existing arrangements under the TB Eradication Scheme include annual testing for TB (the “round” test) of the national herd and/or designated categories of animals, with primary responsibility for arranging testing and paying for certain tests assigned to farmers.

Meanwhile, speaking last week, Dr. Good said that vaccinating badgers against TB could be another additional step that could be looked at in order to become TB free.

She also said that for infected herds, the Department would probably have to control movement even more.

This, she said, is because herds that the Department has done a number of risk analysis studies on that have had a history of having TB outbreaks, have a tendency to regress and have a repeat breakdown.

Over 14,000 cattle react to TB test in first 10 months of 2016

Figures obtained by Agriland earlier this month showed that over 14,000 Irish cattle reacted positively to TB tests carried out on farms between January and October of this year.

Herd incidence of TB nationally currently stands at 3.12%, according to the figures.

Official figures show that the Wicklow West District Veterinary Office (DVO) had the highest incidence of reactors in Ireland, with over 12% of the animals tested showing a positive reaction to the TB test.

Leitrim and Mayo had the lowest rates of positive reactors, with 108 and 166 respectively.