Trading of cattle locally in the area may have been a factor in a TB outbreak in South Kerry which has been dubbed the worst in living memory.
The Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said this week that during 2017, 53 herds in these areas were restricted with a total of 302 reactors removed, 32 of the restrictions followed reactor disclosure at a contiguous herd test.
The Minister Creed also said that while his Department has recently commenced the vaccination of badgers against tuberculosis, it is not recommended that vaccination be used whilst there is an active disease outbreak.
He said in line with this policy, where badgers are identified as a likely source in Co. Kerry a survey is carried out and badgers are captured and removed under licence issued by the National Parks and Wildlife Service of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. This is currently on-going in the South Kerry area.
However, Minister Creed also said that there are other factors that contribute to the spread of tuberculosis which may be contributing to the problem in this area.
“A significant number of animals are traded locally within the area and the clustering of outbreaks indicates that the contiguous spread between herds is also likely a factor.
“Farmers in the area are to be congratulated for their efforts to increase biosecurity which will further reduce the risk of future outbreaks.
“Finally, while it is too early to formulate any definitive conclusions, early indications are that the situation in South Kerry is showing signs of improvement.
“The rate of reactor disclosure and herd restrictions has abated.
“A significant number of herds have recently had one clear test and a smaller number have had their second clear test and are no longer restricted,” he said.
Researchers have discovered a brand new ‘super-ranging’ behaviour in badgers, which has major implications for implementing vaccination programmes to limit the spread of bovine tuberculosis (TB).