Thursday, 18 May 2006
Dáil Eireann Debate
78. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if her Department was informed by the UK authorities regarding a recent anthrax outbreak on a farm in South Wales; the number of suspected cases of anthrax her Department has investigated during each of the past ten years; if any were confirmed; the anthrax outbreak contingency plan her Department has; if she will provide this Deputy with a copy of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18884/06]
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mary Coughlan): My Department has been aware for some time that, following the death of five cows on a farm in South Wales, tests revealed that two of the cows tested positive for anthrax. I am satisfied that the measures employed by the Welsh authorities in relation to the disposal of the cattle and the fact that no cattle had been sent from the farm in question for the food chain for almost 12 months eliminates any risk of introduction of the disease into Ireland from this particular incident.
The last incidence of anthrax arose in December 1970 on two adjoining farms in Co. Limerick, resulting in the death of five cattle. These premises were placed under the normal restrictions and the usual precautions were taken including the disposal of the animals on site. There was no further spread of the disease. My Department does not keep statistics in relation to the investigation of suspect cases.
Anthrax is classified as a Class A Disease under the Diseases of Animals Act 1966. The Act requires that any suspect case is immediately notified to my Department and provides for the compulsory slaughter of any infected animals and their immediate and appropriate disposal. I am satisfied that the measures currently available under the legislation are sufficient to ensure that an outbreak of anthrax would be dealt with appropriately without the need for a dedicated contingency plan given the rarity of the disease in Ireland.
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