TB levels in the North peak at highest rate in over a decade

Tuberculosis (TB) rates have hit their worst level in Northern Ireland in more than a decade, the latest figures reveal.

The detected percentage of incidences of TB, an infectious disease of cattle, has continued to rise since it ended a four-year lull in 2011.

The latest figures from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) show that in August 1,304 animals reacted to TB tests.

Herd incidence of TB in Northern Ireland over the last 12 months peaked at just above 9% – the highest it has been in around 12 years.

Similarly, animal incidence rates for the last 12 months reached 0.76% – the highest level since late 2004.

The most recent figures show that 2,713 herds were tested in August.

The region saw a sudden uplift in TB incidences in late 2011. Despite efforts to control the disease, detection rates have continued to steadily increase ever since.

The figure for August – 1,304 reactors – is almost double the 833 and 827 which showed reaction to the test in August 2015 and 2016 respectively.

10,000 animals tested

So far this year, more than 10,000 animals in the region have reacted to tests.

Newtownards in Co. Down was the worst hit area with 1,030 reactors. 1,140 animals were confirmed to have have TB in the district.

The figure for Newtownards was up substantially on the year before, when 734 animals were confirmed to have the disease.

The second worst hit area was Enniskillen in Co. Fermanagh, where 913 animals reacted to the test and 944 tested positive.

It was almost double the 545 cattle which tested positive for the disease the year before.

Omagh and Londonderry also saw small increases in the number of animals which tested positive compared to last year.

Whereas all other areas – including the region’s third worst hit area, Dungannon – saw a drop in the number of animals tested positive.

Instances of the disease have also risen south of the border with the only exception Co. Wicklow where the proportion of reactors dropped for the third year in a row.