Wicklow West, Wicklow East and Louth have the highest herd incidence when compared to the national 12-month rolling average, according to figures released by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM).
However, it said these regions combined represent 2% of the national herd.
On June 28th, 2020, the rolling 12-month herd incidence for bTB was 4%, meaning that in the previous 12 months, 4,225 herds out of 105,561 tested had at least one bTB positive animal.
This is the highest level of bTB in Ireland since 2012 and continues the trend of a gradual ongoing increase in bTB incidence in recent years, the DAFM said.
The map shows that bTB levels in many areas overall are low but there are areas with higher levels of bTB in the north-east of Ireland (Monaghan, Cavan, Louth and North Meath) as well as parts of Clare, Cork, Tipperary, Wicklow, Offaly, Westmeath and some other districts.
The department explained that a targeted, high impact bTB control plan is in place in Monaghan and parts of Cavan and Clare, which has been implemented in collaboration with stakeholders.
Meath, Westmeath, Cork north and Tipperary north have had a marked increase in herd incidence in Q2 2020 when compared to Q1 2020.
Mayo and Donegal had the lowest 12-month rolling herd incidence at 1.96% and 1.98% respectively.
Number of outbreaks and reactors rising
“Rising herd incidence and reactor numbers are of concern to all stakeholders.”
“Senior Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) officials at policy and operational level are closely reviewing national and regional trends in order to determine the main factors influencing these changes.”
“Continuing cooperation between farmers, Private Veterinary Practitioners and DAFM officials will be required to take action to reduce disease spread and target more effectively the high-risk factors associated with bTB transmission in order to bring disease trends back on a downward trajectory.”
Eradicating the disease
The key to eradicating any infectious disease is to reduce the number of subsequent infection, the Department explained.
To stop the spread of bTB and eradicate it in Ireland, the bTB R0 must be brought below 1.
The principles of disease control apply to both bTB and COVID19. the department added:
- Movement restrictions and maintaining separation to prevent infection spreading Contact tracing and testing of those exposed to infection;
- Cleaning and disinfecting to prevent the spread of infection through the environment;
- Taking a risk-based approach to controls;
- Encouraging people to make responsible choices on actions which could increase or decrease disease spread.