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Department welcomes increases volume of EIA testing

The Department of Agriculture and Food and the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders' Association (ITBA) today confirmed that the Virology Unit of the Irish Equine Centre (IEC) has tested in excess of 14,000 blood samples for Equine Infectious Anaemia (EIA) in January, bringing to over 42,000 the total number of samples tested since the first case was confirmed in June 2006.

The Department commended the ITBA for the inclusion of a specific EIA recommendation in its 2007 Code of Practice and those more than fifty stud farms which signed-up to the strict implementation of the recommendation. The Department said that the stud farmers' and mare owners' commitment to the application of the EIA recommendation demonstrated the industry's commitment to playing its part to ensuring the containment and speedy eradication of the disease and complemented the Department's own efforts to the same end.

The Department confirmed that it is now 53 days since the most recent case was confirmed on 10 December, by some distance the longest interval to have elapsed between any two cases, thus giving increasing confidence that the outbreak has been contained and that significant progress has been made towards its eradication. The Department also confirmed that it has concluded its targeted surveillance programme in the Meath/Kildare/Dublin region, though testing of samples will continue, particularly for horses being entered for sale or for export.

The Department and the ITBA expressed their satisfaction with the level of EIA testing undertaken in January which they said 'demonstrated strong support for the recommendation made by the ITBA, in its Code of Practice, that all mares to be covered in 2007 should have the first of two EIA tests in January 2007.' Appreciation was also expressed for the ongoing commitment of the IEC to ensuring that the volume of testing is undertaken expeditiously.

It is anticipated that the total number of samples tested for EIA by the end of March will have increased to as many as 50,000. The Department also said that, assuming no further cases, all premises restrictions should be lifted by mid-March. In all, 53 premises have been subjected to movement restriction since the initial outbreak in June, with only eight premises currently under restriction.

In addition to the EIA tests carried out last month, in excess of 8,500 tests were also undertaken for Equine Viral Arteritis (EVA) and it is expected that this figure will also increase significantly over the remainder of the 2007 breeding season.

Both the Department and the ITBA emphasised the need for continued vigilance and, notwithstanding the improving situation, both stressed the need for the continued strict compliance with the ITBA Code of Practice recommendation that any mare to be covered this season should have a second EIA test if their January test is outside of 28 days of their transportation to a stud or foaling unit.

1 February, 2007

Date Released: 01 February 2007