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Gildernew issues Brucellosis alert

7 August, 2009 - by Westminster

The Veterinary Service in the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) is investigating a case in which it believes a brucellosis reactor animal was moved illegally from a farm and another animal substituted.

Agriculture Minister, Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA said: “DARD is currently investigating an incident where we believe we have evidence that a brucellosis reactor, a dun Charolais-type cow, giving an extremely high reaction to the BR test, has been moved illegally from a farm, with another animal being substituted. As this incident is presently under investigation I am not in position to give any further details. However, such is the potential seriousness of the implications for the disease status of other herds, it is important that livestock farmers are aware of this situation.”

The Minister went on to say: “This is an extremely serious matter and our actions in alerting herdowners to it are an indication of our concern. While I do not wish to pre-empt the conclusion of ongoing investigations, we will push for the maximum penalties for anyone found guilty of such actions. DARD will be making full use of recent technologies, including DNA and strain typing, for investigation of this incident and any subsequent disease outbreaks.”

“Brucellosis has the capacity for explosive spread in particular circumstances. Should the suspected action in this case lead to further herd breakdowns it could significantly hinder, and possibly reverse, the excellent progress that the Industry has made in brucellosis eradication in the last year. The incidence of brucellosis in cattle herds has halved from approximately 1% in Sept 2008, to 0.5% in June 2009 with a consequent reduction in compensation costs for slaughtered cattle from over £7million in 2007/8, to less than £4million in 2008/09.

“If there is subsequent secondary spread to neighbours, the effect within an area could be long-lasting. The benefit of disease eradication for the many herdowners who have co-operated fully with DARD’s disease eradication programme and been part of that success, could be undermined by the deplorable and inexcusable actions of a few.”

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