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BSE alert: Suspected case of mad cow disease probed at border county farm in Republic of Ireland

Published 11/06/2015

A case of suspected Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) has been identified on a dairy farm in Co Louth, in the Republic of Ireland..

If the case is confirmed it will be the first BSE case found in Ireland since 2013. The Department of Agriculture confirmed a full investigation is underway. The suspected BSE was found in a five-year-old cow.

The suspected case was identified through the Department’s ongoing surveillance system of animals which die on farms.

“The animal was not presented for slaughter and did not enter the food chain,” the department stated.

The confirmation tests will be available in one week.

The department said it was informing the European Commission, and will be liaising with trading partners.

It comes just after the World Animal Health Organisation (OIE) moved to recognise Ireland as a country having a "negligible risk" for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney had recently stated the move to downgrade Ireland’s BSE status was worth in the order of €25m per year to the meat processing sector, as it reduced the list of materials from cattle which have to be disposed of as specified risk materials.

He recently said that BSE had caused “very considerable disruption to trade in the beef sector in the past”.

The department has said that it expects the case to be confirmed as a "classical case of BSE".

This could impact on Ireland’s recently awarded “negligible risk status” from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

If the case is confirmed, Ireland will revert to “controlled risk status” which applied up to last week and which facilitated trade to a wide range of international markets.

It will also result in the continuation of the existing range of controls for a further number of years.

The case was identified through the Department’s on-going surveillance system on fallen animals (that is animals which die on farms).

Giving his reaction to the news, local TD and former minister Fergus O'Dowd said the test results are "deeply concerning" and have potentially serious implications for the country.

Speaking to Independent.ie, Mr O'Dowd said: "This is very worrying and is deeply concerning for the sector."

He said he was contacted by Minister Coveney this morning and that he was  reassured that the results came by way of the department's own surveillance system.

Mr O'Dowd also said that it was important to note that the animal in question had not entered the food chain.

He said he is to get an urgent briefing from the Department of Agriculture this afternoon.

Source Irish Independent

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