Vets welcome Northern Ireland’s bovine TB eradication strategy

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The British Veterinary Association (BVA) and BVA Northern Ireland branch has welcomed the launch of the TB Strategic Partnership Group’s (TBSPG) long-term strategy document on bovine TB (bTB) eradication and Agriculture Minister Michelle McIlveen’s announcement that she will carefully consider the recommendations with a view to consulting on the proposed approach in early 2017.

Seamus O’Kane, President, British Veterinary Association Northern Ireland Branch, said: “We welcome this strategic, integrated and fresh approach to the eradication of this costly and devastating disease from Northern Ireland’s livestock.

“We are particularly pleased to see an emphasis on an increased role for vets in practice.

“The strategy underlines timely and appropriate communication to ensure all stakeholders know their own role in the effort to make Northern Ireland bTB free, signalling the importance of closer cooperation between farmers, vets and government.

“We are pleased to see the strategy acknowledge the need to control the wildlife reservoir, and that culling, where necessary, will be considered as part of the integrated approach.

“We will look carefully at the detail of any proposed culls in the future.

“The continuing commitment to research and the strategic deployment of testing methods such as the gamma interferon test are also welcome announcements.

“We would emphasise that it is important that the gamma interferon test is used in a strategic way, that is targeted and defined by the epidemiology, particularly with the suggested cap on compensation.

“Overall, we agree with the integrated approach advocated by the TBSPG’s proposed strategy and believe this is what is needed to achieve the long-term goal of TB eradication in Northern Ireland.”

Gudrun Ravetz, President, British Veterinary Association said: “England, Northern Ireland and Wales are all striving to control a disease that has significant impact on animal health and welfare and agricultural livelihoods. BVA has long advocated a comprehensive strategy that uses every available tool that we have in the toolkit.

“The publication of TBSPG Strategy today is a significant contribution to this comprehensive approach in the UK and to the eventual eradication of bTB in Northern Ireland.”