The total number of TB reactors identified in the first seven months of this year has fallen by 9% compared to the same period in 2020.
However, the incidence of the disease is still running 26% ahead of 2019 levels.
The latest figures from the Department of Agriculture show that the total number of reactors for the year to the start of August fell from 12,276 in 2020 to 11,121.
[...] the number of TB cases identified in slaughterhouses was back from 2020 to 2021, falling from 931 to 918
This is a drop of 1,155 compared to same period in 2020 but is 2,287 higher than 2019.
Similarly, the number of TB cases identified in slaughterhouses was back from 2020 to 2021, falling from 931 to 918. However, reported cases were still well ahead of the 2019 figure which stood at 801.
The same trends are evident in the numbers of herds restricted as a consequence of TB, and in the herd incidence for the year to date.
The number of restricted herds for the period 1 January to 2 August this year fell by 4% compared to 2020, dropping from 2,559 herds to 2,453. The number of herds restricted in 2019 was 2,211.
The herd incidence for the year to date was 3.62%. This is back from 3.8% for the same period in 2020 but up from 3.24% for 2019.
Despite the downward slide in TB incidence, disease levels remain high in many parts of the country, particularly in Monaghan and Wicklow.
The ICMSA claimed that a voluntary programme to encourage farmers to remove animals deemed “inconclusive” in initial TB tests was now required to ensure a more rapid response to outbreaks.
The association pointed out that up to two-thirds of animals identified as “inconclusive” were subsequently found to be reactors following blood tests.
[...] by removing TB sources at an early stage, there would be a dividend in terms of reduced TB levels in future years
“The recently introduced inconclusive policy has identified a high percentage of reactors to the blood test among inconclusive animals and given this, a voluntary programme to encourage farmers to remove inconclusives at the early stage should be introduced,” maintained ICMSA deputy president, Lorcan McCabe.
“While this would require additional resources from the Government initially, by removing TB sources at an early stage, there would be a dividend in terms of reduced TB levels in future years and it is essential that farmers would be incentivised to remove inconclusives at an early stage,” he added.
Meanwhile, the COVID-19 flexibilities relating to TB testing will cease from 1 September, the Department of Agriculture has confirmed.
The flexibilities exempted calves aged 42 to 120 days from a requirement to be tested for TB, thereby enabling calves up to 120 days of age to be sold without a test. The TB testing flexibilities also allowed herd tests to be delayed for up to four weeks.
In other TB-related news, the badger BCG vaccination programme saw 3,004 badgers vaccinated in 2020
The measures were introduced last year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and aimed to streamline testing and reduce the requirement for animal handling.
In other TB-related news, the badger BCG vaccination programme saw 3,004 badgers vaccinated in 2020, figures included in the Department’s annual report have shown.
This was an increase of over 1,500 badgers vaccinated by the Department in the previous year.
A further 4,723 badgers were removed in the Department’s TB eradication programme last year, with 2,917 new setts recorded around the country.
The total area covered in the vaccination programme was 19,079km2 at the time of the programme’s completion last year.