Agriculture reduces some controls and tests after the declaration of the Balearic Islands as an area free of bovine tuberculosis thanks to the continued efforts of animal health

Feb 1, 2023 | Current affairs, Featured, Post, Thursday Daily Bulletin, Tradition

The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, through the Directorate General for Agriculture, Livestock and Rural Development, has sent an information note to the Balearic Islands cattle sector on what this means and how some of the measures in force until the declaration by the European Commission of the Balearic Islands as a bovine tuberculosis-free zone can be made more flexible. On 20 January the Official Journal of the European Union declared the Balearic Islands to be free of the disease. The Directorate General sent the request to the European Commission in June 2022 with the data and results of the controls carried out in recent years.

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Balearic Islands as an area free of bovine tuberculosis

According to the director general of Agriculture, Livestock and Rural Development, Fernando Fernández, “it is positive news because after many years we have achieved it, it is a success of the livestock service, of all the professionals involved in animal health, and ultimately of the work we have done with the sector because it also benefits public health”. In this way, he refers to the work done by the official veterinary services, the Institute for Agri-Food Research and Training of the Balearic Islands (IRFAP), the Health Defence Associations (ADS) and the owners of livestock farms who, year after year, have carried out the health surveillance, control and control programmes to eradicate this disease in the Balearic Islands.

The Balearic Islands are, together with the Canary Islands, Catalonia, Galicia, Murcia, the Basque Country and Asturias, the territories of Spain recognised by the European Union as free of tuberculosis.

The declaration as a tuberculosis-free zone does not mean the end of the work of control and surveillance of this disease, but it does mean that the intensity of the controls and tests carried out on cattle on farms in the Balearic Islands can be reduced and made more flexible. In this way, it will be possible to stop testing animals moving for life (for fattening or breeding) within the Balearic Islands and also the movement to other autonomous communities that have the same health status in terms of this disease. In 2022, 204 movement controls were carried out on livestock farms, affecting 1,016 animals.

As for the entry of animals for life, such as breeding animals, from other Autonomous Communities with the same health status, they are exempt from prior controls, but controls are maintained in the destination farms to guarantee the optimum health conditions of the community. These controls affected only 4 animals in 2022.

Finally, sampling of the cattle herd on existing farms in the Balearic Islands will be maintained, given the prevalence levels of recent years and the small number of existing farms. Thus, in the first two years, 2023 and 2024, a similar number of farms will be tested as in 2022.

The programme for the eradication of bovine tuberculosis was introduced in Spain in the 1990s. It is an infectious disease affecting cattle as well as other domestic and wild animals. It is a zoonosis and as such affects public health.