Poots reminds farmers to report all cattle abortions and stillbirths for brucellosis testing

Date published: 23 September 2021

Farmers must continue to be vigilant against brucellosis, Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots has said.

Daera Minister Edwin Poots
Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots MLA

In late 2020, routine testing for brucellosis came to an end in Northern Ireland, five years after Officially Brucellosis Free (OBF) status was achieved in October 2015.   

Agriculture Minister, Edwin Poots said: “Our Officially Brucellosis Free status was hard won and was the product of many years of effort by the farming community in partnership with the Department.  Following the attainment of our OBF status, farmers here have been able to benefit from reduced testing requirements which culminated in the ending of routine testing almost a year ago.

“However, the maintenance of our OBF status requires us to remain vigilant against any suspected reoccurrence of this costly disease.  While we continue to carry out surveillance testing, including bulk milk sampling and undertaking post import testing, farmers also have a key role to play in our efforts to keep this disease out of Northern Ireland.” 

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

He said: “Thankfully it is now nearly ten years since the last case of brucellosis in Northern Ireland.  However, 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. In order to maintain our OBF status and ensure continued compliance with legislative requirements, the Department implements a surveillance protocol including:

a) Follow-up of all reported abortions.

b) Monthly bulk milk sample examination for all dairy herds.

c) Abattoir sampling of cull cows.

d) Post-import sampling of eligible animals

4. 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.

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

7. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hour’s service for media enquiries only 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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