Thursday, 12 May 1977
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. Leonard: asked the Minister for Health if he has established the percentage of the population that suffers from brucellosis at present; and the measures that are being taken to deal with this disease.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health (Mr. R. Barry): Brucellosis is a notifiable disease and 154 cases of it were notified in 1976. This represents a rate of 4.9 cases per 100,000 of the population and notifications of the disease have shown a fairly steady increase from 1970 when the rate was 1.3 cases per 100,000. In the first three months of this year 36 cases were notified as compared with 30 cases in the first three months of last year.
Brucellosis is a difficult disease to diagnose and I accept that it may be more common than these figures indicate. On the other hand the annual increase in notifications may indicate improved diagnosis rather than an increase in the incidence of the disease.
Brucellosis is transmitted to man mainly by contact with infected animals or by consumption of their milk raw; the disease is not transmitted from person to person. Pasteurisation of milk for human consumption is effective in the prevention of the disease and the extension of pasteurisation of milk supplies is being proceeded with. The eradication of brucellosis in humans is of course linked with the success of the bovine brucellosis eradication scheme which is operated by my colleague, the Minister for Agriculture.
Mr. Leonard: On the question of notification is there any system of checking other than that of depending on general practitioners to bring to the attention of the health authorities any incidence of the disease?
Mr. Leonard: No. I am asking whether the notification of specific diseases is dependent on general practitioners. I understand that there is some small consideration for the notification of such diseases as diphtheria, whooping cough and brucellosis but is there any system within the Department of Health by which a check can be made as to whether general practitioners notify in each case?
Mr. Leonard: Having regard to the high incidence of this disease, and the Parliamentary Secretary has indicated that the situation may be worse than available information suggests, would he not consider having a system by which the authorities could ensure that every case was notified?
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