The Republic of Ireland recorded its largest ever monthly total of new BSE cases in November, according to a spokesman from the agriculture ministry.

On Friday, figures were released revealing that there were 53 new cases in the country over the course of last month. This brings the total number of cases to 220 this year, compared to 149 for last year.

The spokesman attributed the increase in cases to an "active surveillance" programme that was introduced for the first time this year. So far, over 600,000 animals have been tested.

Since BSE was first detected in the country in 1989, 810 cases have been confirmed from the national herd of about 7.6 million cattle.