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Minister Coughlan calls for final effort to eradicate Brucellosis

The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan TD, today welcomed a further reduction in Brucellosis levels and called for a final effort to eradicate this disease from the national herd.

Minister Coughlan said that the dramatic reduction in the incidence of Brucellosis noted in 2005 was being maintained into 2006. The 2005 figures showed that, across the main indicators such as the number of blood positives, depopulations etc, the incidence of the disease had fallen by over 60% compared with 2004. In the first three months of 2006, the number of blood positives has fallen by a further 25%. No herds were depopulated during this period this year compared with six in the same period last year.

The Minister said that this improvement was due to a number of factors not least of which was the full co-operation of all stakeholders with an effective eradication regime. This included a comprehensive testing and depopulation regime, the tightening up on illegal cattle movements, the regulation of dealers, prosecutions for breaches and the imposition of penalties for failures to comply with animal disease and identification regulations.

Minister Coughlan said that Brucellosis levels were now at an all time low and the ultimate goal of eradication is at last a realistic prospect. However, for this to be achieved, it was essential to retain for now all aspects of the existing intensive programme. In addition, it was more important than ever that farmers should continue to adopt appropriate replacement policies and implement effective bio-security measures. She stressed that if farmers had to buy in replacement stock, including young female stock, they should do so from known sources and they should never purchase from a source they are not absolutely sure of. She warned that some calves and young female stock can carry Brucellosis without showing any signs and without it showing up in blood tests until they calve or abort later in the herd. Furthermore, the Minister reminded farmers to apply sensible biosecurity arrangements on their premises and to report any abortions to their vet or to the Department.

Concluding, Minister Coughlan said that, in light of the dramatic progress achieved in reducing the incidence of Brucellosis, she was satisfied that this disease can be eradicated in the short-term. She said that she was grateful for the co-operation of all of the parties who had contributed to the success to date and she was confident that their ongoing co-operation would result in the eventual eradication of a disease which had created so much difficulty for many farmers over the years.

15 May 2006

Date Released: 15 May 2006