Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Friday 18 August 2017

Disease outbreak sees over 400 lamb carcasses destroyed

It is understood the outbreak has been linked back to the Donegal region. GettyImages
It is understood the outbreak has been linked back to the Donegal region. GettyImages
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

The Department of Agriculture has confirmed over 400 carcasses of lambs were destroyed after they were found to have a disease that can be transmitted to people.

Veterinary inspectors detected the disease called sarcocystosis in lambs over several weeks and carcasses were condemned before they entered the food chain.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) explained cases of people becoming infected with the sarcocystis parasite are more common in “cultures where raw meat is commonly eaten”.

However, cases of infections among people are uncommon in Ireland. It is not listed with the Health Protection Surveillance Centre as a notifiable infectious disease.

It can cause symptoms such as nausea, stomach ache, and diarrhoea vary widely depending on the number of cysts ingested. In many cases it is benign with no obvious signs.

It is understood the outbreak has been linked back to the Donegal region. In many cases the parasite it can be passed on to sheep from contamination from dogs.

“Department veterinary inspectorate have condemned carcases at a number of sheep slaughter plants over a number of weeks as being unfit for human consumption. The carcases were excluded from the food chain.

"The animals have been traced and the cause of the problem has been diagnosed by the Department Regional Laboratory as sarcocystosis,” a spokesman for the Agriculture Department said.


A spokesman said there is a comprehensive system of inspections both prior to slaughter and after slaughter at Irish meat plants. “Where animals fail to meet the required standards, they are excluded from the food chain,” he said.

The cysts are visible to the eye on parts of the carcase and were identified by vets.

Rigorous food safety procedures are in place at the country’s meat plants, with Ireland exporting an estimated 50,000 tonnes of sheepmeat valued at €240 million last year.


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