AFBI Scientists Leading The Fight Against Brucellosis

IRELAND - Minister Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA has visited the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) laboratories at Stormont, to see how their work contributes to the fight against brucellosis.
calendar icon 1 July 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

AFBI scientists process hundreds of thousands of blood samples taken on farms around the countryside every year, for evidence of brucellosis (BR) infection, and perform culture tests on samples taken at post mortem to establish if infection is confirmed or not. AFBI scientists have progressed innovative areas of work such as strain typing of the actual brucellosis bacteria and DNA analysis of samples from cattle.

Outlining efforts to eradicate Brucellosis, the Minister said: “The fight to stamp out Brucellosis has many cogs, all of which have a key role play in tackling an outbreak. My Veterinary Service staff, and the wider agricultural community, depend on the renowned resource at AFBI to process a huge number of blood samples annually. The results allow detection of disease and also the clearance for the local and international trade that is the lifeblood of the agricultural economy. We also have the benefit of AFBI’s technical expertise in the fascinating and increasingly relevant fields of strain typing and DNA analysis.

“AFBI have been an integral part of recent Brucellosis outbreak investigations, particularly the recent Keady breakdowns. Their superb strain typing systems can now compare fresh samples with previous strains, which in the case of Keady allowed veterinary staff to make better informed decisions in the field. The strain found in the recent Keady breakdowns has shown that it is the same strain currently seen in Lislea. “

Focusing on the recent Brucellosis outbreak in Keady, the Minister said: “I am deeply concerned about the situation in Keady and Lislea. There have been 16 breakdowns in these two areas in 2010, yet little confirmed infection anywhere else. I was very glad to hear that over 100 farmers turned out for a meeting with my officials in Keady mart last week to find out more information on the situation, and where they could also express their frustrations and worries about this latest development. Everyone must work closely together to catch those unscrupulous individuals who are intent on destroying livelihoods for personal gain. I want to emphasise that the blame for these outbreaks lies firmly with these few and that the ordinary decent farmer is the one paying the price.

“The meetings’ attentions were firmly focused on several specific issues. These were, the Temporary Control Area, the importance of reporting any suspected abortions, the risk that Brucella abortus poses to human health and the importance of biosecurity in the area. The level of feedback which my team received from the farmers in attendance was very refreshing. I also wish to thank the member of staff from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (DAFF) Monaghan veterinary team for their very constructive contribution to the discussion, particularly for leading debate on comparing BR eradication efforts north and south . Their praise for our BR eradication programme and comments on the need to catch the rogue elements who are holding us back from achieving Officially Brucellosis Free (OBF) status were very welcome."

She added: “I would again appeal to all herd keepers to continue to co-operate with DARD in their efforts to limit the spread of this dreadful disease. Herd keepers should take simple biosecurity precautions to protect their livestock as much as possible. It is crucially important that we keep up strong lines of communication and remain firmly committed to our ultimate goal of stamping out brucellosis for good.”

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