Decision on national IBR eradication programme expected later this year

The Department of Agriculture will decide later this year if it is going to introduce an eradication programme for IBR, the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed has confirmed.

He said Teagasc is currently undertaking a cost-benefit analysis of the implementation of such a programme in Ireland and the results are expected to be available later in the year.

A decision on whether or not to proceed with a national IBR eradication programme will be taken in light of the outcome of the Teagasc study in consultation with stakeholders, the Minister said.

He was responding to questioning from Fianna Fail, Agriculture Spokesperson Charlie McConalogue on the significant fall in live exports to Belgium this year.

Minister Creed said Live exports from Ireland to Belgium have reduced considerably largely as a consequence of the introduction by Belgium of a compulsory national Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR) eradication programme.

Under EU legislation, Member States who have compulsory disease eradication programmes in place or who have freedom from particular diseases, such as IBR, are entitled to additional guarantees when bovine animals are being traded into these states or regions.

The Belgian programme was approved by the Commission in 2014.

‘Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis’ (IBR) disease spreads between cattle and can cause the nose and upper airways to become severely inflamed.

It is caused by a herpes virus and according to the Animal Health Ireland, approximately 70% of Irish herds have evidence of infection.

Most cattle become infected through their airways, with the virus spreading by close contact between animals. It may travel through air (3 – 5 m) and can be spread indirectly by semen, contaminated equipment, and people who have recently handled infected animals.

For most Irish herds – vaccination combined with good biosecurity is the best way of controlling IBR.