Vets seek private aid on disease controls
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."