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Wednesday 28 June 2017

First Irish case of tropical disease reported in Tipp

Lamb foetus displaying the classic signs of Schmallenberg. The disease is largely absent from the flocks in 2014
Lamb foetus displaying the classic signs of Schmallenberg. The disease is largely absent from the flocks in 2014
Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

The first Irish case of a new tropical disease called Besnoitiosis has been discovered on a cattle farm in Co Tipperary.

The case is the latest in the spread of the parasitic disease to have been formally identified since it was first detected in Europe in the 1990s.

The case was spotted by a UCD vet student, and veterinary practices have now been notified by the Department of Agriculture of the tell-tale signs of the disease to look out for.

It can initially resemble IBR with fever and discharges from the eyes and nose. It can also persist as lumps in the skin in the chronic stages, when animals may not be visibly sick, bar carrying cysts in their eyes or vulva.

Besnoitiosis is a parasite that is similar to toxoplasmosis in sheep or nocardia in cattle. It does not affect people, nor is it a food risk.

The discovery continues the trend of diseases moving from tropical and sub-tropical areas to temperate regions due to climate change.

Flowers

African Horse Sickness has been moving northwards in Spain for some years, while the Schmallenberg outbreak witnessed here in 2013 is believed to have originated in flowers air-freighted from Africa.

"This would explain how it leap-frogged much of southern Europe to suddenly appear in Germany and Holland," said the Cork-based president of the Veterinary Council, Bill Cashman.

Although Schmallenberg has virtually died out on Irish farms, Mr Cashman warned that it could yet reemerge over the coming years, pointing to recurrent outbreaks of similar diseases every seven to eight years in Australia.

"There is growing international concern regarding the spread of diseases transmitted by blood sucking insects such as midges and ticks. But there's not much that Irish farmers can do about it beyond keeping a close eye on their stock and notifying the relevant authorities as soon as they see something suspicious," he said.

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