Farm Ireland

Friday 23 March 2018

Vets seek private aid on disease controls

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Veterinary Ireland is calling on the Department of Agriculture to include private vets in any contingency planning and preparation for Class A disease outbreaks such as foot-and-mouth.

The motion, which was prompted by the recent investigation of a suspected foot-and-mouth case, is one of 10 which will be tabled at the Veterinary Ireland AGM and conference in Kilkenny this Friday.

It follows a national-scale foot-and-mouth disease exercise called 'Silver Birch' which was carried out in Britain on November 9 and 10. The exercise simulated a national outbreak of the disease to test the effectiveness of existing plans and policies to control and deal with such an event.

It included the setting up of a national disease control centre, local centres and an emergency coordination centre and involved British government departments, veterinary experts and key industry bodies.


Veterinary Ireland president Joe Collins said foot-and-mouth was always a worry and there was growing concern that the Irish state veterinary service was not operating at the strength it was during the foot-and-mouth crisis of 2001.

"Vet numbers in the state service have fallen from 350 to 300 or less," he said.

"To cope in a foot-and-mouth emergency, the Department of Agriculture could have to call on private vets but something like that could not be launched at the 11th hour."

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A second motion will call for the Department to maintain adequate staffing at all DVOs and meat plants "to ensure that the day-to-day work, as well as emergency response in Class A disease outbreak, can be adequately and effectively addressed."

In 2008/9, the Department conducted a series of 24 exercises in real time, involving a suspect investigation on-farm, with assessment of the site for slaughter and disposal, and completion of an epidemiological report. Key contacts with the gardai and local authorities were made, with follow-up discussions.

Irish Independent