February 2019

  • PhD research positions to support bovine TB eradication in the Republic of Ireland
    The Quantitative Veterinary Epidemiology group in the Wageningen Institute of Animal Sciences, in association with Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) and CVERA, is recruiting two PhD candidates to support the eradication of Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) in the Republic of Ireland. The roles include a modeller with an interest in infectious disease modelling (based in Wageningen) to work on spatial modelling of bTB multi-host dynamics, and an epidemiologist/biologist (based in Dublin) with good quantitative skills to analyse the spatial heterogeneity in bTB transmission with and without vaccination of badgers. The closing date for applications is the 18th February 2019 and further details can be found at here.

  • Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine
    Prof Simon More will appear shortly before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine to discuss general issues relating to bovine tuberculosis. Details of the work conducted by the Joint Committee can be found at here.

  • A review of Johne’s disease in dairy herds
    Dr. Conor McAloon from the Herd Health & Animal Husbandry Section in the School of Veterinary Medicine has written several review papers in The Veterinary Journal on paratuberculosis in dairy herds with emphasis on epidemiology and on-farm control. In addition, Conor has written a key paper in Preventive Veterinary Medicine on the low accuracy of Bayesian latent class analysis for estimation of herd-level true prevalence under certain disease characteristics. The results of this study raise questions about the accuracy of published estimates for the herd-level true prevalence of paratuberculosis based on serological testing, using latent class analysis. CVERA contributed to these studies.

  • Scientific work in support of the national JD control programme
    Detailed work has recently been published to support surveillance and control options for Johne’s Disease in Ireland. This work, led by international consultants Evan Sergeant and Ann Meyer with support from colleagues in CVERA, UCD and Animal Health Ireland (AHI), has proved central to the design of the national JD control programme. The papers are published in the Journal of Dairy Science and can be found here and here.

  • CVERA welcome a new member to the team
    We would like to welcome Jamie Madden to CVERA in his role as biostatistician. Jamie worked as a postdoctoral researcher in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland on pharmaco-epidemiology studies where he was exploring the relationship between population drug exposures to breast cancer outcomes. He completed a PhD in Health Services Research (biostatistics and epidemiology) where his thesis involved the modelling of circadian blood pressure patterns. Jamie will be working on a wide range of projects relating to animal health & welfare and public health.

October 2018

  • Dr Tracy Clegg
    After almost 17 years in CVERA, Dr Tracy Clegg has moved to a new role as statistician in the Census of Population Unit within the Central Statistics Office. Tracy has authored and co-authored over 60 peer review papers and has made an enormous contribution to the work of CVERA. She will be greatly missed, both professionally and personally, and we wish her well in her new role.

  • Further improvement in the control of bTB recurrence in Ireland
    Following earlier work by Gallagher et al. (2013), Houtsma et al. (2018) present objective evidence of further improvement in the control of bTB recurrence in Ireland: herds derestricted in 2008 were 0.75 (95 per cent CI: 0.68 to 0.82) times as likely to develop a further restriction compared with 1998 herds, and herds derestricted in 2012 were 0.85 (95 per cent CI 0.76 to 0.95) times as likely as 2008 herds. However, this paper also strikes a note of caution. Despite significant improvements, bTB recurrence remains a concern, with 30.2 per cent (95 per cent CI: 28.0 to 32.4 per cent) of herds derestricted in 2012 being re-restricted over the subsequent three years.

  • Culicoides dispersion model
    Last year, Met Éireann and CVERA created an operational model for forecasting potential incursion of windborne Culicoides (midges). There is strong evidence to suggest that the introduction of Schmallenberg virus into Ireland in the summer of 2012, was due to the arrival of infected midges carried on the wind from southwest England. By forecasting midge dispersion, we can assess the risk of future potential incursion events which can then assist in active surveillance, particularly for Bluetongue virus, which is active on mainland Europe but has yet to reach Ireland. The model is built on the HYSPLIT atmospheric dispersion model driven by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF). The model is run daily with the 3-day forecast results emailed to a list of relevant associates. In September 2018, the model was enhanced to improve emission estimates and to simplify the output. By summer 2019, the model will be further enhanced to include biological parameters, thereby making prediction estimates more realistic.

  • Mitigating the risk posed by Trojan dams in the Irish BVD eradication programme
    Risks posed by Trojan dams are of ongoing concern in the national BVD eradication programme. As part of her Masters studies and building on an earlier publication, Fiona Reardon and colleagues found that 10.6% of BVD+ birth events to non-BVD+ dams in Ireland during 2015 could be attributable to Trojan dams. In a second paper, Reardon et al. (2018) investigated a range of risk mitigation strategies, to limit the risks posed by Trojan dams whilst also minimising the impact of trade in non-infected herds. Results from her work have shown that measures to control the movement of Trojan dams should be targeted in a way that fits the Irish context and reduces the spread of BVD virus, without unduly impacting other trade. This study was conducted collaboratively between CVERA and Animal Health Ireland. Fiona successfully defended her Masters thesis earlier this year.

  • Challenges and solutions to supporting farm animal welfare in Ireland: responding to the human element
    The Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Marine recently launch a report by Catherine Devitt and UCD, DAFM and CVERA colleagues on the Challenges and solutions to supporting farm animal welfare in Ireland: responding to the human element. The report seeks to increase national and international awareness of the centrality of the relationship between human welfare and farm animal welfare, and of the challenges experienced by veterinary professionals who encounter complex farm animal welfare situations. It also introduces the concept of One Welfare, and provides practical guidance to assist stakeholders, policy makers and legislators in the formation and delivery of farm animal welfare support interventions that are farmer and animal-centred–including approaches aimed at building on-farm capacity and compliance with animal welfare legislation.

  • A visual representation of cattle movement in Ireland during 2016
    In our previous e-zine, we included a link to a video which visualised cattle movements in Ireland during 2016. The peer review paper behind the video has now been published in the Irish Veterinary Journal and is available here. The animation was created to be a communication tool to enable stakeholders to appreciate the extent of high risk cattle movements (farm to farm, farm to market to farm) in the Republic of Ireland and to highlight the potential role that these movements may play in the spread of infectious diseases of cattle in Ireland from one farm to another.

  • M. bovis 2020
    Preparations for the Seventh International Conference on Mycobacterium bovis continue. The previous conferences in the series took place in Dublin 1991, Dunedin 1995, Cambridge 2000, Dublin 2005, Wellington 2009 and Cardiff 2014. Plenary papers from several of the conferences were collected in special issues of Veterinary Microbiology and Tuberculosis including: 1991, 2000, 2005 & 2009. For more information please visit or follow us on Twitter @mbovis2020

  • African Swine Fever
    EFSA recently released its latest report on African Swine Fever, including strategies for managing wild boar at different stages of an ASF epidemic (what should be done before, during and after). Passive surveillance – reporting of dead wild boar – remains the most effective way to detect new ASF cases at an early stage in previously disease-free areas. Simon More contributes to this work, as part of EFSA’s ASF working group.

  • European Food Safety Authority
    After completing a 9-year term on EFSA’s Animal Health and Welfare Panel, including 6 years at chair, Simon More was recently elected chair of the EFSA’s Scientific Committee. The SC includes scientists with expertise across all areas of EFSA’s remit, with responsibilities for risk assessment practice, cross-cutting scientific issues and strategic scientific advice to EFSA’s management.

May 2018

  • A visualisation of cattle movements in Ireland during 2016
    CVERA has produced an animation which presents 1.3 million movement events, consisting of 6.7 million cattle, that occurred in the Republic of Ireland during 2016. Movement data were provided by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine from the Animal Identification and Movement database. The animation can be viewed at the CVERA YouTube Channel.
  • Biennial Report 2016/2017
    The UCD Centre for Veterinary Epidemiology and Risk Analysis (UCD CVERA) and The TB Diagnostics and Immunology Research Laboratory have published the Biennial Report 2016/2017. The report outlines work conducted by, or in association with, these two DAFM-funded research unit in the UCD School of Veterinary Medicine. Areas of research include bovine tuberculosis; non-regulatory cattle health issues and other animal health and welfare issues. The Biennial Report 2016/2017 can be downloaded from the CVERA website.

  • The sensitivity and specificity of diagnostic tests for bTB
    Detailed information are available on the sensitivity and specificity of both ante- and post-mortem diagnostic tests for bTB in the UK and Ireland. This study which appears in Preventive Veterinary Medicine was based on a systematic literature review and associated meta-analysis. It was led by colleagues in AHVLA in Weybridge, with input from a range of partners in both countries, including CVERA. Of note, the median sensitivity for the SICTT and IFN-γ tests were estimated at 0.50 (95% credible interval: 0.26, 0.78) and 0.67 (0.49, 0.82), and the median specificity of these tests was 1.00 (0.99, 1.00) and 0.98 (0.96, 0.99). The three papers are available at PVM 153, 94-107; PVM 153, 108-116 and PVM 153, 117-126.

  • Abattoir surveillance for bTB
    The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published a series of opinions to assess the impact of changing from the current meat inspection procedures (CMI) to visual-only inspection (VOI) procedures. In a recent Frontiers of Veterinary Science paper, we consider the impact of such changes on herd-level detection sensitivity in Ireland. The results show that if VOI were introduced without alternative surveillance means to compensate for the decrease in abattoir inspection sensitivity, such changes might jeopardise bTB surveillance, control and eradication programmes in cattle herds of non-OTF countries, including Ireland. The paper can be found at FVS (in press).

  • CVERA contribution to the work of EFSA
    Simon More is shortly to complete his 9-year term with EFSA's Animal Health and Welfare Panel, including the last 6 years as AHAW Panel chair. He has contributed to many scientific opinions during this period, with perhaps the most notable relating to African Swine Fever, multiple stressors affecting honey bees, meat inspection, animal health law and Q fever. During 2018-21, he will continue as a member of EFSA’s Scientific Committee, which considers scientific issues that span all disciplines across EFSA’s areas of responsibility. More information on EFSA’s Scientific Committee and Panels can be found here.

  • Trends and predictors of large tuberculosis episodes in cattle herds in Ireland
    Although there has been a general trend towards less severe bovine tuberculosis (bTB) episodes in Ireland, large bTB episodes still occur (5% of episodes in 2015 involved over 15 reactors). In a recent study conducted by CVERA, in collaboration with DAFM, we looked at predictors that can distinguish between small (less severe) and large (more severe) bTB episodes. In this study we also sought to describe the national trends over time in the severity of bTB episodes in Ireland. The paper can be found at FVS (in press).

  • Decision support beyond total savings - Eligibility and potential savings for individual participants from changes in the national surveillance strategy for bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) in Ireland
    In April, we published a paper in Preventive Veterinary Medicine which evaluated how a suggested change from tissue-tag testing to blood sampling would affect individual herd owners in the BVD eradication programme. This work was used by the BVD Implementation Group to shape current policy. The paper is available at PVM 155, 38-44.

  • The history of in vivo tuberculin testing in bovines: tuberculosis a “One Health” issue
    A paper titled “The history of in vivo tuberculin testing in bovines: tuberculosis a “One Health” issue” was recently published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science by Good et al. The paper focuses on the development of tuberculin testing in bovines; outlines the origins of tuberculosis (bTB) and puts bTB in a social context. It also discusses the various impediments to the eradication of tuberculosis in bovines as well as discussing tuberculosis in a "One Health" context. The paper is available FVS 4, 247.

  • Professor Eamonn Gormley has been appointed Chairman of the 7th International Conference on Mycobacterium bovis
    Congratulations to Professor Eamonn Gormley who has been appointed Chairman of the 7th International Conference on Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis 2020 for short). Further details on the compilation of the Scientific Committee will be confirmed later this year.  The conference will take place from 8-11 June 2020. For more information please visit or follow us on Twitter @mbovis2020

  • Congratulations to Dr. Inma Aznar on her PhD and new appointment with EFSA
    Congratulations to Dr. Inma Aznar who successfully defended her PhD in Wageningen University earlier this year. Her thesis “Infection dynamics and effective control strategies of tuberculosis in badgers and cattle in Ireland” resulted in several high impact papers on various aspects of badger vaccination in Ireland. We wish Inma all the best as she begins her new job with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in Parma, Italy.

February 2018

  • Quantify Mycobacterium bovis transmission in a badger vaccine field trial
    In the UK and Ireland, Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination of badgers has been suggested as one of a number of strategies to control or even eradicate Mycobacterium bovis infection in badgers. A recent paper by Aznar and colleagues from Wageningen University examines the results of the badger vaccination field trial conducted in County Kilkenny. The paper introduces a novel trial design and analytical methods allowing for the effects of vaccination on protection against infection and, more importantly, on transmission to be estimated. The results of this study reveal that, with vaccination coverage in badgers exceeding 30%, eradication of M. bovis in badgers in Ireland is feasible, provided that the current bovine control measures also remain in place. [Link]
  • Wildlife Administration Unit and badger vaccination
    DAFM's Wildlife Administration Unit (WAU) has had responsibility for the implementation of the Department's wildlife strategy for bovine tuberculosis since it's foundation in 2002. The strategy is implemented under licence from, and in co-operation with, National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). CVERA provides ongoing support to the WAU, including the approval or rejection of badger capture requests under specific circumstances as agreed with NPWS in accordance with the terms of the 1976 Wildlife Act (as amended). CVERA also generates regular WAU activity and “area under treatment” reports, provides ongoing support to field staff working in problem areas and generates resources for various projects including vaccination trials, bait study trials and the non-inferiority trial. CVERA will continue to provide support to the WAU as it progresses to the badger vaccination phase of the TB eradication programme, as announced by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, TD in January, 2018. Minister Creed's announcment can be found at here.
  • On-farm antimicrobial usage
    There is increasing scrutiny of on-farm antimicrobial usage as part of discussions - internationally, within the EU and nationally - on antimicrobial resistance. In several EU member states, farm-level data are now available to allow objective assessment and benchmarking. In a recent publication, intramammary antimicrobial usage in Ireland between 2003 and 2015 has been quantified, based on national sales data. In recent years, there has been a reducing use of in-lactation therapy, whereas the national coverage of dry cow therapy is approaching 100%. Further, there is a small but increasing percentage of tubes, both for in-lactation and dry cow use, containing antimicrobials that are critically important for human health. The results highlights positive national progress, but also areas for detailed review. [Link]
  • Bovine spongiform encephalopathy
    The investigation of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) cases can be particularly difficult, in large part due to the time lag between exposure of the BSE agent and the onset of clinical signs. Drawing on the experience gained in Ireland over many years, a recent paper describes an epidemiological framework and BSE investigation questionnaire to aid in the investigation of suspect BSE cases, and the application of this tool during the investigation of a suspect BSE case in Ireland in 2015. [Link]
  • Hypothetical route of the introduction of Schmallenberg virus into Ireland
    Schmallenberg virus (SBV) is a viral pathogen of ruminants that first emerged in Europe in 2011. In Ireland, the first confirmed case of SBV was identified in October 2012. In conjunction with DAFM’s Central Veterinary Laboratories, CVERA used SBV serology on archived bovine sera combined with Atmospheric Dispersion Modelling to investigate the potential introduction of SBV into Ireland through a Culicoides (biting midge) wind incursion event in the summer of 2012. The findings are presented in the Veterinary Record and can be found at here.
  • RISKSURV workshop
    CVERA and the SAT division in DAFM recently ran a workshop on the design of risk surveillance systems using the RISKSURV tool. A key message from the workshop was the need to clarify the primary purpose of surveillance, either early detection, demonstrating freedom from disease, measuring prevalence or case finding. The first two objects are relevant to exotic diseases such as bluetongue and foot and mouth disease, and the latter to surveillance of endemic diseases such as Johne's disease and bovine tuberculosis. Workshop participants explored the use of the RISKSURV design tool to facilitate a structured approach to the design of disease surveillance programmes. More details of the RISKSURV tool can be found at here.
  • BVD mapping
    CVERA produce monthly maps for Animal Health Ireland (AHI) in support of their national Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) eradication program. These maps include the monthly cumulative distribution of persistently infected (PI) births per year and the number of positive animals detected and still alive since the program commenced. Plans are underway for AHI, Animal Health & Welfare Northern Ireland and CVERA to expand this mapping series to cover the island of Ireland in the near future. The maps can be viewed here.
  • African Swine Fever
    Following its initial incursion into the EU in early 2014, African Swine Fever (ASF) is now present in a number of EU member states. In support of the European Commission and individual member states, the Animal Health and Welfare Panel within the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has now produced 8 scientific opinions and reports on a range of issues relevant to ASF and its control. Its most recent scientific report, published on 8 November 2017, covers the 12 month period to September 2017. It is clear that sharing best practice, including early detection and rigorous emergency measures, is critical to stopping spread. Further, despite concerted efforts to stop ASF spread among wild boar, humans have played a critical role in spreading the disease. Simon More is chair of the AHAW Panel and a member of the current ASF working group. The scientific report can be found at here.

  • BVD eradication
    CVERA, Animal Health Ireland, and UFZ in Leipzig collaborated to evaluate the Irish BVD eradication programme and inform its future development. In particular, an epidemiological modelling approach was used to predict the likely time-to-eradication of BVD from Ireland and to evaluate the pros and cons of switching to a serological, as opposed to tissue-tag testing, approach. The study highlighted the adverse impact of PI retention on time-to-eradication. The study was recently published in Preventive Veterinary Medicine and can be accessed here.
  • Influenza D Virus in Cattle, Ireland
    CVERA provided mapping support for DAFM’s Laboratory Services in their letter entitled ‘Influenza D Virus in Cattle, Ireland’ recently published in Emerging Infectious Diseases. The study confirms the emergence of influenza D virus in Ireland. The letter can be found here.
  • M. bovis 2020
    Planning is ongoing for the Seventh International Conference on Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis 2020 for short). M. bovis 2020 will take place in Galway from 8-11 June 2020, bringing together scientists, policy makers, veterinarians and industry stakeholders from around the world with the aim of identifying constraints and providing practical solutions for the control and eradication of M. bovis. The Scientific Committee will be formed over the coming months. For more information please visit or follow us on Twitter @mbovis2020

October 2017

  • UCD CVERA Statement of Strategy 2017-20
    During the past six months, a strategic review of CVERA has taken place in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the UCD School of Veterinary Medicine and other principal stakeholders. As a result of the review, CVERA has developed clearly defined strategic goals, objectives and expected outcomes for the medium term. These are presented in the CVERA Statement of Strategy 2017-20. Three priority areas have been identified for immediate action, including the establishment of an independent management board, the introduction of systems to improve task management within CVERA, and a communications plan.
    Download the CVERA Strategic Plan 2017-20
  • M. bovis 2020
    The Seventh International Conference on Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis 2020 for short) will take place in Galway from 8-11 June 2020. M. bovis 2020 will gather together scientists, policy makers, veterinarians and industry stakeholders from around the world with the aim of identifying constraints and providing practical solutions for the control and eradication of M. bovis. The conference will bring together experts on a wide range of M. bovis related themes including: the science/policy interface, epidemiology, surveillance, diagnostics, wildlife reservoirs, social science & economics, vaccination, practical delivery, and innovation for TB control and eradication. For more information please visit or follow us on Twitter @mbovis2020

  • The performance of the interferon gamma assay when used to test for bovine tuberculosis in infected cattle herds in Ireland
    Recent research conducted by CVERA in conjunction with DAFM has looked at the performance of the interferon gamma (IFN-γ) assay. This assay is used as an ancillary test for bovine tuberculosis in infected cattle herds. The results of this study highlighted the risk associated with retaining animals that were positive to the IFN-γ, and suggested prompt removal of these animals. More details of the study can be found at

  • Comparing European cattle trade markets
    CVERA’s Jamie Tratalos has recently begun a collaboration with Vittoria Colizza (Inserm, Paris, France), Eugenio Valdano (Universitat Roviri i Virgili, Tarragona, Spain) and other researchers from 15 European countries, conducting a comparative study of European cattle trade markets, to examine similarities and specific characteristics of each and to assess the implications for infectious disease spread, public health and animal welfare. This will allow us to see how Ireland differs from its neighbours, and in turn what this says about our vulnerability to disease and how best to conduct monitoring programmes. This involves running generic computer code on Irish movement data in CVERA and sharing the resulting metrics with the larger project, but no sharing of the raw data.

  • World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Commission for Agricultural Meteorology (CAgM)
    CVERA’s Guy McGrath is currently acting as the European (World Region VI) representative in a focus group for the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Commission for Agricultural Meteorology (CAgM). The WMO is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) with 191 Member States and Territories. It is the UN system's authoritative voice on the state and behaviour of the Earth's atmosphere, its interaction with the land and oceans, the weather and climate it produces and the resulting distribution of water resources. As one of the eight technical commissions of the WMO, CAgM provides guidance in the field of agricultural meteorology by studying and reviewing the available science and technology. The ‘Expert Team on Livestock, Poultry, and Inland Fisheries: Agromet Services and Products’ have been tasked with producing a handbook and a report which will be available from the WMO in 2018. For more information, please visit

  • Veterinary ethical challenges
    Manuel Magalhães-Sant’Ana and others have published a series of papers in the Irish Veterinary Journal on the “challenges facing the veterinary profession in Ireland”. Each paper focuses on a specific issue relating to the veterinary profession including clinical veterinary services, the on-farm use of veterinary antimicrobials and emergency & casualty slaughter certification. The papers are available at

  • UCD Research Repository
    The Selected Papers 1990-2003 are now available to download from the UCD Research Repository. The Selected Papers are a collection of reports produced by, or in association with CVERA members on a wide range of issues related to bovine tuberculosis, BSE and brucellosis. Several other documents relating to research conducted by, or in association with, CVERA have also been uploaded to the UCD Research Repository. These include reports on the “Challenges and solutions to support good equine welfare practice in Ireland” and the “Current and future ethical challenges facing the veterinary profession in Ireland”. We’d like to thank Joseph Greene from the UCD Research Repository for his help in this matter. The CVERA Research Collection can be found at