200 TB reactors removed from 13 Waterford farms

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, has confirmed that 200 TB reactors have been removed from a total of 13 farms located in Co. Waterford.

The minister was responding to a recent parliamentary question tabled by Fianna Fail TD Mary Butler – a representative of the Waterford constituency.

Commenting on the matter, Minister Creed said: “Notwithstanding the progress in the TB eradication programme in recent years, from time-to-time clusters of outbreaks – as can be expected with an infectious contagious disease – occur in defined geographical locations.

“12 herds are currently experiencing a TB breakdown in the Ballyduff Upper area, Co. Waterford. The breakdowns commenced in autumn/winter 2017 and early spring 2018.

One herd has since gone clear. In total, 200 reactors have been removed from a total of 13 farms.

“Epidemiological investigations conclude that it spread from wildlife (badgers) – contiguous neighbourhood spread (meaning within-herd spread). In some cases, residual infection was the likely source of infection.

“Fragmentation of holdings is a feature of farming in the area and also has the potential to contribute to the spread of infection,” he said.

The minister explained that deer are noted as being present; but there is “no evidence to date” that they have any significant role to play in causing or sustaining bovine TB infection in cattle in the area.

Continuing, he said: “Actions taken in the area include: the removal and slaughter of 200 reactors; the implementation of a contiguous testing programme in neighbouring herds; epidemiological investigations for each herd in breakdown; and forward / back tracing of animals moved have been completed for each herd.

A wildlife programme is in operation to deal with any potential wildlife reservoir of infection and supplementary blood testing (gamma-interferon) was carried out where warranted.

“My department has dealt with this outbreak in an effective and efficient manner – including meeting with the local farming body – and will continue to do so in all such cases,” he said.

Minister Creed declared that department officials will “continue to proactively manage the outbreak in the area, by helping affected herds go clear in as short a time-frame as possible”.