Thursday 14 December 2017

Suspected case of mad cow disease in Louth is 'isolated'

Simon Coveney
Simon Coveney

A suspected case of mad cow disease has been described as “isolated” as the Government moved quickly to reassure Ireland’s valuable beef export markets

The disease was identified in a five-year-old rare breed dairy cow on a Co Louth farm.

If confirmed, it will be the first Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) case found in Ireland since 2013.

The revelation comes a week after the World Health Organisation officially recognised Ireland as having a negligible risk for BSE.

It will take at least a week to confirm the case, but Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said it was an “isolated incident” and added that “there is absolutely no human risk here”.

“It’s not confirmed and it won’t be confirmed for another week or so,” he said.

“We’re satisfied that the likelihood here of BSE is such in this one animal that we need to be fully transparent and officially issue a statement on it.

“On one level this is reassuring. What we have is a very robust system whereby if any animal dies on a farm it gets BSE tested. No animal can die in Ireland on a farm without being tested for BSE.”

The Department of Agriculture’s chief veterinary officer, Martin Blake, said he was 80pc certain that tests would confirm the cow was Ireland’s first case of BSE in more than two years.

The animal was tested on Tuesday through the department’s ongoing surveillance after it died on the farm, and results were provided on Wednesday night.

Movements of animals into and out of the farm will be restricted for the duration of the investigation, but milk from the herd will be collected by the local dairy processor.

“There is no risk to human health stemming from this case, either in terms of the meat or milk,” Mr Blake said.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the news was “disappointing, to put it mildly”.

“This is an isolated incident and one we’re very obviously concerned about,” he said.

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