Galway TB stats on the decline

Greyhound trainer Kevin Connolly takes his dogs for a walk near Atherny. Photograph: Hany Marzouk.
Greyhound trainer Kevin Connolly takes his dogs for a walk near Atherny. Photograph: Hany Marzouk.

THE incidence of Bovine TB in Galway continues to decline although stubborn pockets of the disease still remain in the county, according to the latest figures available.

For the first nine months of his year, the percentage of Galway herds that were restricted due to TB stood at 2.26%, slightly higher than the national average of 2.06%.

The figures – provided to the Farming Tribune by Galway IFA Livestock Committee Chairman, Michael Flynn – showed that there were 763 reactors in the county from January to September this year.

Out of a total of 8,725 herds tested in Galway up to the end of September, 197 of them were restricted due to TB.

Back in 2008 the incidence of TB in Galway herds stood at 5.61% but since 2014 that figure has been under 3% and is on target to be at its lowest ever in 2016.

However, according to Michael Flynn, the ‘perfect scenario’ of Ireland being declared ‘TB free’ is still a long way off with 2030 put forward as a target date by some Department officials.

“What we are seeing are incidences of TB where roads or major development work has taken place and the wildlife has been disturbed.

“Over the past year or so, we’ve seen that with the motorway development from Gort down towards Tuam, where little pockets of the disease have emerged,” said Michael Flynn.

He said that the cycle of the disease in badgers needed to be broke with a cull of the infected animals followed by a comprehensive vaccination programme.

“This really is the only way that we will make progress in finally eradicating a disease that has cost farmers and the State hundreds of millions of euro down through the years,” said Michael Flynn.

He said that the Bovine TB eradication programme had now gone on for over a half a century and while the figures were ‘going the right way’ there was still a long way to go in terms of Ireland being declared TB free.