Irwin concern on TB spike

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Newry & Armagh DUP Assemblyman William Irwin MLA has spoken of his concerns following the publication of Bovine TB statistics which show that TB rates in Northern Ireland are at the highest for 12 years.

Mr Irwin said the statistics made “worrying reading” and he added that more radical approaches were needed to force down incidence rates.

He added: “These statistics are alarming, especially as they indicate very clearly that for the year 2016 TB reactors in Northern Ireland are at their highest in 12 years, this is an increase on 2015 figures and shows a very worrying and continuing upward trend.

“I have been on record on many occasions stating that the Department must pursue a much more intensive programme in order to force down the incidence rates. Many farmers and industry representatives believe wildlife to be a key driver in TB infection rates. In my view the current TVR programme is in reality taking much too long and isn’t having any immediate impact.

“We have seen regions in the UK and indeed in the Republic of Ireland directly target wildlife carriers of TB and the result of those programmes has been a very clear downward trend in TB rates. I think it is very alarming that despite all the publicity and commitments from the Department we are looking at figures which show a 12 year high in incidence rates.”

He concluded: “I feel an urgent review of the current departmental approach is required in order to evaluate fully this alarming increasing trend. This is all the more pressing especially in light of observable, verifiable evidence of the success of more direct interventions in other regions of the UK and the RoI that are actually working. I ask why our Department continues down this path, in light of rising TB rates, when examples and evidence exists of more successful approaches in other regions?”