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Can bovine TB be eradicated from the Republic of Ireland? Could this be achieved by 2030?
- More, Simon J.
- Irish veterinary journal 2019 v.72 no.1 pp. 3
- badgers, bovine tuberculosis, cattle, control methods, industry, models, risk, vaccination, wildlife, Irish Republic
- BACKGROUND: There has been an ongoing decline in bovine tuberculosis (TB) in the Republic of Ireland, however, TB has yet to be eradicated. Further to a recent commitment by the Irish government to eradicate TB by 2030, this paper considers two questions, ‘Can bovine TB be eradicated from the Republic of Ireland?’ and ‘Could this be achieved by 2030?’, given current knowledge from research. Until very recently, Ireland has lacked key tools required for eradication. This gap has substantially been filled with the national roll-out of badger vaccination. Nonetheless, there is robust evidence, drawn from general national research, international experiences, and results of a recent modelling study, to suggest that all current strategies plus badger vaccination will not be sufficient to successfully eradicate TB from Ireland by 2030. We face a critical decision point in the programme, specifically the scope and intensity of control measures from this point forward. Adequate information is available, both from research and international experience, to indicate that these additional measures should broadly focus on adequately addressing TB risks from wildlife, implementing additional risk-based cattle controls, and enhancing industry engagement. These three areas are considered in some detail. CONCLUSION: Based on current knowledge, it will not be possible to eradicate TB by 2030 with current control strategies plus national badger vaccination. Additional measures will be needed if Ireland is to eradicate TB within a reasonable time frame. Decisions made now will have long-term implications both in terms of time-to-eradication and cumulative programme costs.