Written Answers. - Bovine Diseases.

Kathleen Lynch

Ceist:

41 Ms Lynch asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of cases of BSE discovered here in 2003 to date; the number of those cases discovered in animals born after the ban on meat and bonemeal came into force; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19023/03]

A total of 105 cases of BSE have been confirmed to date in 2003, including one case from a depopulated herd. This represents a reduction of 43% on the corresponding period in 2002, when 185 cases, including two cases from depopulated herds, were confirmed.

The feeding of meat and bone meal to ruminants was banned in 1990. I assume the Deputy in referring to the ban on meat and bone meal means the date from which enhanced controls in relation to meat and bone meal, specified risk material and the processing of mammalian waste products were introduced in October 1996 and February and March 1997 respectively. In 2003, two BSE cases were confirmed in animals born in 1997.

In both 2002 and 2003 some 98% of cases were identified in animals aged six years or more at the time of diagnosis, compared with 84% and 60% in that category in 2001 and 2000 respectively. The increasing age profile of animals in which the disease is confirmed and the declining numbers of BSE cases are positive indications that the additional controls introduced in 1996 and 1997 are having the desired effect and that the incidence of BSE will continue to decline as older animals leave the system.