A proposal for a national programme to eradicate Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR) has been presented at a meeting of the IBR Implementation Group, according to Animal Health Ireland’s (AHI’s) most recent newsletter. The IBR Implementation Group is comprised of representatives from the processing sectors, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), farm organisations, breed societies, and Teagasc. At the meeting, a proposal for a national IBR eradication programme was presented, which was developed by the IBR Technical Working Group.
According to available data, approximately 80% of breeding herds in Ireland have some level of IBR infection. The proposed programme envisages an initial reduction phase to decrease the number of herds in the country with the disease while recognising herds that meet requirements which deem them as being free from the disease. During the initial phase, it is proposed to apply a test to determine the herd status, which would consist of a bulk tank milk test in dairy herds. The DAFM is currently undertaking national bulk-tank milk surveillance which can provide cost-effective guidance to dairy herds on next steps, with use of targeted blood sampling in suckler herds providing similar information.
The proposed programme will be followed by an eradication phase, with ongoing review and refinement of the programme. Vaccination, biosecurity, and testing are key elements of the proposed programme, according to AHI. Infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) is a highly infectious viral disease in cattle caused by bovine herpesvirus 1 (BoHV-1).
The Implementation Group raised a number of questions based on the presentations, and these are currently being addressed by the Technical Working Group (TWG) in advance of convening a further meeting of the IBR Implementation Group. The overall objective of this group will be to decide on the merits or otherwise of implementing a national IBR Programme.
The proposed programme is a positive step towards controlling and eliminating the spread of IBR in Ireland. The disease can cause significant economic losses to farmers, and eradication programmes have been successful in other countries. However, there are concerns about the cost and feasibility of implementing a national programme, particularly for smaller farmers. It is important that the programme is carefully planned and implemented to ensure its success and to minimise the impact on farmers.
The proposal has been welcomed by farm organisations, who recognise the importance of controlling and eradicating the disease. However, they have also highlighted the need for support and compensation for farmers who may be affected by the programme. The success of the programme will depend on the cooperation of farmers and the effective communication of information and guidance.
Overall, the proposal for a national IBR eradication programme is a positive development in the fight against this highly infectious disease. The success of the programme will depend on careful planning, effective implementation, and the support and cooperation of farmers.