A live exports reduction of over 20,000 head of cattle has been linked to Ireland’s inferior national herd health status for IBR (infectious bovine rhinotracheitis).
A 98% reduction (20,877 to 405) in live exports from Ireland to Belgium in the past year is linked to additional guarantees in respect of intra-community trade for countries like Belgium which are recognised by the European Commission as being officially free of IBR.
“While these guarantees do not prevent the importation of live animals they make it much more difficult,” according to Animal Health Ireland.
This loss of export markets is likely to worsen if other Member States, such as the Netherlands, implement official eradication programmes, according to AHI.
European countries and regions which have completed eradication programmes and are officially free of IBR include Denmark, Austria, Finland, Sweden, the province of Bolzano in Italy and seven Federal States in Germany.
Commission approved programmes are also underway in the Czech Republic, three regions of Italy, the remaining nine Federal States in Germany and, most recently, Belgium.
Signs of IBR infection in cattle can include high temperature, pneumonia, coughing and discharge from the eyes and nose. Less commonly, abortion may occur.
Infection is common in dairy and suckler herds in Ireland, with infected carrier animals present in the majority of herds, although in many infection may be subclinical.
Although apparently healthy, bulls may be latently infected, posing risk to a naïve herd. Outbreaks of disease in fattening units, following mixing of carrier and susceptible animals from different herds, are well known.
AHI is working to estimate the potential costs to industry due to the loss of export markets, disease and the impact on the AI sector, and to develop options for eradication.
AHI intends to publish results from this work early next year.
Further information may be found on the www.animalhealthireland.ie website.
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