Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill has said that the north continues to progress towards consideration for Officially Brucellosis Free (OBF) status.
Brucellosis is a highly contagious disease of cattle and other animals, which often results in abortions and infertility.
The Minister said: “We have passed the two year mark since the last confirmed case of brucellosis, which was at the end of February 2012.
“If we continue to remain free of disease for another year we will be in a position to make the application for OBF status to the EU Commission in March 2015. Once that has been approved we will be able to implement the subsequent progressive reduction of control measures such as annual testing and pre-movement testing.
“However, there remains a risk that there could be latent infection in the country, hence the requirement to demonstrate three years freedom from confirmed infection before the application for OBF will be considered.
“I urge herd owners to be mindful of this possibility and to report all abortions and any suspicion of this disease, to allow Veterinary Service staff to follow up with the necessary investigations. There is also the risk that animals imported from other countries could also bring in infection.”
The Minister urged farmers to consider the health of the cattle population as a whole and to give consideration to the disease risks involved, not just from brucellosis, and enquire about the present and past disease status of herds that they are purchasing from.
Minister O’Neill added: “I know that fulfilling the terms of the brucellosis eradication programme has, at times, been onerous for farmers but we must give ourselves the best chance of remaining free of disease to ensure that we can enjoy the easing of the control measures that will come with OBF status.”