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BSE: Disease Control

Volume 471: debated on Monday 28 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress his Department has made towards its public service agreement target of a reduction in the number of cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy detected by both passive and active surveillance to less than 60 in 2006, with the disease being eradicated by 2010; and if he will make a statement. (181485)

There were 104 bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) cases in Great Britain (GB) in 2006. In 2007, the number of cases fell by 49 per cent. to 53.

DEFRA is continuing to work towards its public service agreement target of eradicating BSE in GB by 2010. However, due to the long incubation period of BSE, achievement of this target will be determined by past events and will be affected by the EU’s surveillance regime and the longevity of cattle born before August 1996, in which the prevalence of infection is highest. The Government are working with industry leaders to encourage producers to dispose of these cattle under the older cattle disposal scheme before it closes at the end of 2008.

Future BSE cases born after the reinforced feed ban in August 1996 could also impact on our achievement of the 2010 target although epidemiological assessments have demonstrated a clear decline in the prevalence of BSE infection in successive birth cohorts born after July 1996.