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Agriculture; Food and the Marine | Bovine TB outbreaks in farming herds

To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine the extent to which ongoing efforts are made to identify the causes of intermittent outbreaks of bovine TB; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine the extent to which the battle against bovine TB continues; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is a challenging disease to control and eradicate. I am acutely aware of the financial and emotional trauma assocated with a tB breakdown.

It causes significant hardship for farmers and farming families, and I am fully committed to the objectives of the Bovine TB Eradication Strategy which aims to reduce and ultimately eradicate this disease in Ireland. This battle against TB continues in 2022.

As of 16th October 2022, on a 12-month rolling basis, herd incidence has reduced to 4.11%, an encouraging decline. However, the number of reactors has increased to 21,616 (~ 200 more reactors than the year before) and this is mainly due to outbreaks in larger herds.

As the spread of this disease is multifactorial, it is being fought on many fronts. The TB programme in each county focuses on factors including wildlife, how disease is distributed in the area, contiguous programmes, gamma interferon testing, cleansing and disinfection, testing compliance and swift isolation and removal of reactors.  

Each TB outbreak is investigated by a veterinary inspector to identify the source of infection. In the case of every outbreak involving two or more standard reactors, there is a veterinary visit to advise the herdowner on how to eliminate infection and measures necessary to help reduce the risk of recurrence. Emphasis is placed on the biosecurity measures a farmer can take to reduce risks on their farm, and when buying in animals.

Ireland’s bovine TB Eradication Programme operates in line with best national and international scientific research and advice. A large body of peer-reviewed research has been conducted into the spread of TB in Ireland and the risks underlying its transmission. This research has found that the principal causes of TB introduction and spread include:

  • movement of cattle with undetected infection.
  • residual infection in cattle previously exposed to TB.
  • spread across farm boundaries.
  • indirect spread through other biosecurity breaches, and/or
  • spread from infected badgers to cattle.

This research has recently been reviewed in its entirety for the Bovine TB Stakeholder Forum by its Scientific Working Group, which comprises a panel of internationally recognised experts in TB research.

The details of the new TB Strategy along with the results of the review are available on 

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