Poots announces new Brucellosis protocol

Date published: 29 September 2020

A new surveillance protocol for Brucellosis will benefit farmers and industry, Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots, MLA, has said.

The revised surveillance protocol will help NI retain its Officially Brucellosis Free (OBF) status and will result in the cessation of routine testing for all herds that have had a Brucellosis test completed within the past five years.

Agriculture Minister, Edwin Poots, MLA, said: “Following the attainment of OBF status by Northern Ireland in October 2015, farmers here have been able to benefit from a less onerous testing programme over the last five years. This has been very much welcomed by all who have worked so hard to eradicate Brucellosis and attain OBF status.

“DAERA veterinary officers recently conducted a veterinary risk assessment of the required levels of surveillance for Brucellosis in the Northern Ireland bovine population post-October 2020.

"As a result of this assessment I have agreed to the implementation of a revised surveillance protocol to secure maintenance of our OBF status. This will mean that routine testing will now cease for all herds that have had a Brucellosis test completed within the past five years.”

The Minister continued: “This revised surveillance protocol, with its effective ending of routine Brucellosis testing, will contribute to the ongoing positive landscape for Brucellosis controls and bring further related savings for farmers, the industry, taxpayers and DAERA.”

The Minister urged farmers to continue to comply with ongoing surveillance measures and practice good biosecurity.

He said “Whilst we are now effectively seeing the end of routine Brucellosis testing, we must not relax our attitude to the reporting of abortions, stillbirths and calves dying within 24 hours of birth or any other suspicion of Brucellosis.

“It is crucial that we continue to stay free of this highly infectious disease.  Stakeholder cooperation has been instrumental in bringing us to this stage and farmers must continue to keep up their efforts to achieve excellent biosecurity standards and adopt appropriate stock replacement policies.”

Notes to editors: 

1.Brucellosis is a highly contagious disease of cattle that is characterised by abortions in cattle and can be transferred to humans with serious consequences for human health.

2. An application for OBF status was approved by the European Commission in October 2015.

3. Brucellosis remains a compulsorily notifiable disease. DAERA has been required under EC Directive 64/432 (‘the Trade Directive’) to implement appropriate monitoring measures for at least five years after achieving OBF status.

4. In order to maintain our OBF status and ensure continued compliance with the Trade Directive after 6 October 2020, it has been concluded that a revised surveillance protocol should be implemented as follows:

  • Follow-up of all reported abortions.
  • Monthly bulk milk sample examination for all dairy herds.
  • Abattoir sampling of cull cows.
  • Post-import sampling of eligible animals

5. DAERA officials have stressed to industry representative bodies the importance of farmers reporting all cattle abortions, stillbirths, and calves dying within 24 hours of birth

6. A small number of herds have not had a brucellosis test in the past five years. Where this is the case, outstanding tests will be scheduled over the coming months. This does not affect our ability to maintain our OBF status.

7. Follow DAERA on Twitter and Facebook: https://twitter.com/daera_ni and www.facebook.com/daerani.gov.uk 

8. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office at pressoffice.group@daera-ni.gov.uk.

9. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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