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