Farm Ireland

Thursday 18 January 2018

Virus strikes at AI facility

IBR hits the Tully Test Station for second time

Declan O'Brien

The IBR virus has struck the Tully Test Station for the second time in less than 12 months.

It has been confirmed that two bulls at the facility tested positive for the disease last week, just four months after the station reopened following a serious IBR outbreak.

The infected bulls were in adjoining pens at the station. Tests on 10 more animals from the same shed proved negative.

Although Tully management are adamant that a full IBR outbreak has been prevented, the fact that bulls at the station have once again picked up the virus will cause grave concern.

A major outbreak of IBR closed Tully last April and the unit did not reopen until November. The current crop of bulls is the first to be taken into the facility since then.

Doreen Corridan, who worked with the ICBF and the breed societies in drawing up stringent bio-security procedures for Tully in the wake of last year's outbreak, admitted that the detection of two more cases at the station was a serious disappointment.

However, Ms Corridan maintained that the early detection of the virus and the immediate isolation of the infected bulls had prevented a more serious situation from developing. "The two bulls found with IBR were positive in the nasal swab tests but clear in the bloods, which suggests that the infection was caught quiet early," Ms Corridan claimed.

She said the source of the infection had not been identified. It is possible that one of the bulls was a latent carrier, though this is not thought likely. The disease could have been carried on the air or brought into the station by wildlife.

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Ms Corridan rejected suggestions that the latest incident at Tully indicated that the bio-security measures introduced at the station had proven inadequate.

She pointed out that many of the top AI stations across Europe had had incidents where bulls tested positive for IBR.

"It is always disappointing when you get an IBR positive but we are extremely happy that it has been contained," Ms Corridan said.

She also claimed that the manner in which the incident had been dealt with proved that the new systems which were put in place last year worked.

Ms Corridan insisted that the two IBR positive results would not disrupt the Gene Ireland Programme. She claimed that the 10 bulls which have been earmarked for participation in the initiative are all free from IBR.

"The AI stations can be confident that the 10 bulls earmarked for Gene Ireland have retained their high health status," she said. Meanwhile, Ms Corridan confirmed that the health protocols which were employed when taking in the last batch of bulls for Tully are to be retained for the next intake in early May.