1 December 1995

Eradication better than doing nothing believes Irish vet

OVER 70% of scab outbreaks are introduced to a flock with bought-in sheep, according to Dr Dermot OBrien, senior veterinary research officer with the Department of Agriculture, Dublin.

Speaking at an MSD Agvet-organised conference in Herts last week on sheep scab, he said farms where outbreaks occurred had poor fencing twice as frequently as farms where scab never occurred.

Evidence is based on Dr OBriens own survey carried out on 272 farms where there had been outbreaks and 222 where scab had never occurred.

To help combat the disease he has devised an eradication plan based on a regional approach. "The plan can be embraced as quickly or as slowly as deemed desirable and practical without loss of effectiveness," he said.

"It must depend on regional co-operation, practical rewards for status, effective penalties for failures, be attractive to flock owners and be workable."

Farms would be designated:

&#8226 Exempt farms.

&#8226 Treatment farms.

&#8226 Commonage.

Dr OBrien proposed the scheme (see box) be under the control of the full-time local authority. It would arrange regular visits to ensure compliance with regulations, to inspect flocks and arrange treatments.

The same discipline would apply to markets.

"Eradication is a better option than doing nothing and this thing can be done if there is a will to do it," he said.

&#8226 The introduction of a confidential phone line in the Republic of Ireland and the production of a two-minute video shown at markets has, to some extent, limited the spread of sheep scab.