Significant risk of spread of animal diseases due to climate change
The introduction, establishment and spread of vector-borne animal diseases represent a significant risk to Ireland; especially as such a high proportion of output is devoted to animal products.
The warning is contained in the Department of Agricultures draft Climate Change Adaptation Plan for the Agriculture and Forest Sector
It says vector-borne diseases rely upon organisms such as mosquitoes, midges, ticks or sandflies that have an active role in the transmission of a pathogen from one host to the other.
Vectors can be introduced to new geographic areas for example by travel of humans and international trade, animal movement, migratory birds, changing agricultural practices, or by the wind.
The climate can play an important role in the lifecycle of diseases and pests that affect livestock, e.g. liverfluke or the introduction of new ‘exotic’ disease not currently found in Ireland.
Susceptibility to disease may increase with the alteration of environmental stresses associated with changing climate patterns.
Each year, the Department advises farmers in relation to the predicted risk of disease caused by liver fluke infection in livestock based on advice received from the Liver Fluke Advisory Group.
DAFM also prepares an annual feed inspection and sampling plan which is heavily influenced by the assessment of risk factors that may impact on animal feed safety.