Latest figures from the Department of Agriculture show that the number of TB reactors rose last year on the back of a new testing programme.

The Department says that, notwithstanding the continuing decline in the number of positive cattle herds thus far in 2014, around 600 more reactors have been detected nationally in those herds.

It says the increase in the number of reactors has resulted from its policy of increased use of gamma blood testing in TB-positive herds to complement the traditional skin test in order to facilitate the earlier detection of reactors in TB-positive herds and shorten the period of restriction.

However, the Department says while the use of gamma blood testing leads to increased number of reactors in the short-term, it is expected to result in a reduction in reactor numbers in the medium term.

The benefits of this approach, it says, which forms part of the Department’s strategy to ultimately eradicate the disease from the national herd by reducing spread, can be seen in the fact that over 300 less herds remain restricted currently when compared with the same time last year, which shows that the average length of a restriction has been reduced.

The total expenditure under the Wildlife programme, which includes badger capture and removal, post mortem assessment and consumables amounts to approximately €3m per year (€2.24m up to 24 November 2014)

The up-to-date position for the period January 1, 2014, to November 23, 2014 is:

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