Eliminating tuberculosis from Ireland will take decades, says expert

Tuberculosis (TB) may not be eradicated in Ireland by 2030 despite substantial progress being made to eliminate the disease, an Oireachtas committee has heard.

Professor Simon More from University College Dublin’s School of Veterinary Medicine told the Agriculture Committee today it would take decades before TB was fully eradicated in cattle.

Prof More said the ongoing rollout of badger vaccination was very important to the national programme for eradication.

Despite this, he said there was robust evidence to suggest the current strategies being adopted may not be sufficient to successfully eradicate TB from the country by 2030.

Mr More said: “TB eradication is likely to be achieved with the addition of badger vaccination to all current control measures, however, it will take a very long time – that is, many decades.

“Further measures will be needed, in addition to current controls plus badger vaccination, if Ireland is to eradicate TB within a reasonable time frame.”

Efforts to eradicate the disease have been made on an ongoing basis  by successive governments since the 1950s.

Only a small number of countries internationally have managed to successfully eradicate the disease.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>It will take decades to fully eradicate TB from cattle, says Prof More (Chris Bacon/PA)</figcaption>
It will take decades to fully eradicate TB from cattle, says Prof More (Chris Bacon/PA)

Australia and some northern European countries are among them.

The last known case of TB in Australia was in 2002.

Mr More said in Ireland the disease was widely considered to be an issue for the government whereas in countries where there the disease has been eliminated successfully TB was very reliant on industry engagement.

In Australia, the programme was funded 50:50 by government and industry, with the latter funded through a cattle transaction levy.

If TB was to recur on the continent, a cost-sharing model of 20:80 (government: industry) has been legally agreed, which Mr More said reflected a shared understanding of the perceived public and private good associated with getting rid of the disease.

During the committee, members conducted scrutiny of a proposal regarding fishing authorisations for European Union fishing vessels in UK waters and fishing operations of UK fishing vessel in EU waters post-Brexit.

The decision was made to invite fisheries officials from the Department of Agriculture to appear before the committee at a later date to discuss the matter in greater detail.

- Press Association

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