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PARATUBERCULOSIS or Johne's disease (JD) is regarded as one of the more serious diseases affecting dairy herds, potentially resulting in considerable losses in farm productivity (Ott and others 1999, Tiwari and others 2008, McAloon and others, 2016). Animal Health Ireland (AHI) coordinates national action on controlling and eradicating diseases not regulated by the EU (More and others 2010). In 2010, industry stakeholders and animal disease experts in Ireland identified JD as a priority disease to be addressed by AHI, although concerns were expressed regarding the effectiveness of current on-farm biosecurity and surveillance measures, disease knowledge and the coordination of activities in tackling the disease (More and others 2010). In response, in 2014 the pilot phase of a voluntary dairy Johne's disease control programme (JDCP) was initiated, intended to test, evaluate and refine the various programme components that would be required to support a future, extended JDCP in Ireland. The specific goals of the JDCP are outlined in Table 1. The programme has three elements for participating herds: herd screening; an on-farm risk assessment carried out by an approved veterinary practitioner and leading to an agreed management plan; a system of herd categorisation designed to either quantify the level of confidence that any given herd participating in the programme with negative test results is truly free of infection or to reflect the level of infection in infected herds (More and others 2013). The pilot phase continued in 2015 and 2016, with key decisions relating to the possible expansion of the programme due to follow a major review, which will take place during 2016. Voluntary programmes have been implemented in countries …
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