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Officially Brucellosis Free status on the horizon

Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill has said that the north continues to progress towards consideration for Officially Brucellosis Free (OBF) status.
Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Brucellosis is a highly contagious disease of cattle and other animals, which often results in abortions and infertility.

The Minister said: "We have passed the two year mark since the last confirmed case of brucellosis, which was at the end of February 2012.

"If we continue to remain free of disease for another year we will be in a position to make the application for OBF status to the EU Commission in March 2015. Once that has been approved we will be able to implement the subsequent progressive reduction of control measures such as annual testing and pre-movement testing.

"However, there remains a risk that there could be latent infection in the country, hence the requirement to demonstrate three years freedom from confirmed infection before the application for OBF will be considered.

"I urge herd owners to be mindful of this possibility and to report all abortions and any suspicion of this disease, to allow Veterinary Service staff to follow up with the necessary investigations. There is also the risk that animals imported from other countries could also bring in infection."

The Minister urged farmers to consider the health of the cattle population as a whole and to give consideration to the disease risks involved, not just from brucellosis, and enquire about the present and past disease status of herds that they are purchasing from.

Minister O’Neill concluded: "I know that fulfilling the terms of the brucellosis eradication programme has, at times, been onerous for farmers but we must give ourselves the best chance of remaining free of disease to ensure that we can enjoy the easing of the control measures that will come with OBF status."

Notes to editors:

  1. DARD has launched a consultation that will run from 11 April 2014 to 4 July 2014 seeking views on proposals to introduce a proportionate relaxation of the pre-movement testing controls for brucellosis. The proposed change would see an increase from 12 to 24 months in the age threshold at which cattle require a brucellosis pre-movement test and an extension in the length of the related movement window from 30 to 60 days. Copies of the consultation can be found on the DARD website.
  2. All media queries should be directed to the DARD Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or email: DARD Press Office. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.