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Coughlan welcomes dramatic improvements in brucellosis levels in 2005

The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan TD, today welcomed the further significant improvement in Brucellosis levels in cattle in Ireland last year which consolidated the progress made in recent years.

Minister Coughlan said that in 2005 the incidence of Brucellosis had fallen under most of the relevant indicators by 60% or more compared with the figures for 2004. In particular, laboratory positive cases were down by 66%, numbers of herds and animals depopulated both fell by 60% while there were 144 new herd restrictions in 2005, representing a fall of almost 50% on 2004. The Minister said that by any standard these figures reflected a dramatic improvement in the disease situation compared with 2004 and more particularly compared with 1998, when the current programme was introduced. For example, the number of blood positives and depopulations fell by 96% and 91% respectively between 1998 and 2005.

Minister Coughlan said "With the cooperation of all parties, remarkable and sustained progress has been made over the past eight years in tackling this disease, which has long been a scourge of many farmers. I am confident that this progress can be maintained so long as all parties continue to work together to tackle the disease. It is however vital that we continue to recognise that Brucellosis is a highly contagious disease and that we do not relax or relent in our efforts to eradicate it from our national herd".

The Minister said that the progress achieved to date was due to a number of factors including the implementation of an effective eradication regime, the tightening up on illegal cattle movements through the Cattle Movement Monitoring System, the regulation of dealers, prosecutions for breaches and the imposition of penalties for failures to comply with animal disease and identification regulations.

The Minister said that the ultimate goal of eradication was now a realistic prospect. However, for this to be achieved, it was essential to retain for now all aspects of the existing intensive programme, which included inter alia full herd and pre-movement testing, blood sampling at slaughter plants, more effective diagnostic measures and rapid depopulations. These measures allowed for earlier intervention in herds, the early removal of infected animals and reduced risk of contiguous spread and a more targeted approach to the management of ?at risk? herds. On the prevention side, a system for lime treatment of slurry was in place for Brucellosis depopulated farms.

Concluding, Minister Coughlan said that she was grateful for the cooperation of all the parties who have contributed to the success of the current programme. While she acknowledged that restrictions and depopulations created difficulties for individual farmers, she was satisfied that the overall programme was working very well and in the longer term everyone will benefit from the final eradication of Brucellosis. She was confident that the good co-operation that existed between farmers, vets, Department staff and others would continue in order to build on the excellent progress already made so as to attain the achievable goal of eradication.

25 January, 2006

NOTE FOR EDITORS

Progress on Brucellosis in recent years (at or to 31 December):
Year No of Herds No. of Lab. No. of New No. of animals Removed
Restricted Positives Restrictions
1998 571 6417 1081 26,587
2000 284 3590 659 27,514
2002 130 1530 430 20,615
2004 102 664 283 6,015
2005 49 228 144 2,347

Date Released: 25 January 2006