Substantial Fall in Cattle TB - Before Any Culling of Badgers has been Undertaken (May 2010)
1 Jun 2010, 2:03 PM
GL (email received 27/5/10) has been looking into the stats for bTB in Wales and has noticed a substantial fall in the bTB figures starting around April 2009. He says:
"For example look at herds under TB restriction.
April 30th 2009 (Wales) Herds under TB restriction 1,983 February 28th 2010 (Wales) Herds under TB restriction 1,117.These figures are actual and ‘on the day.’ They do include herds late with their tests.
Dyfed works out at about 36% reduction in herds under restriction in the last 10 months (April 30 2009 - Feb 28 2010) but if you subtract the ‘overdue test factor' you get about a 40% reduction. Wales with the overdue tests factored out you get a reduction of 58% over the same period.
Re Defra's own assessment for GB of CNI's, this the rate of Confirmed New Incidents (bTB) per 1000 tests on clean herds given as a percentage and although they are provisional, they show a 14% reduction Feb 2009 to Feb 2010. Again this is ‘substantial.’ If you take the actual GB figure for 2008 however, which stood at 5%, and the figure for this February 2010, which is provisionally given as 3.8% the downward trend is indicated.
The yearly figures given below (from the published data) are ‘actual’, but somehow are marked as ‘provisional’. Can they still be working on figures for 2008/2009? After all, it is June 2010.
CNI's in Dyfed 2008 were 301 CNI's in Dyfed 2009 were 234
This represents a ‘substantial’ actual drop of over 22%, better than in the rest of Wales. They are finding a lot less bTB out there, how is this possible without any badgers having been removed? We are told that it is badgers who are infecting cattle yet incidence of the disease is in ‘substantial’ decline.
In 2009 there were 1,610 less cattle culled in Wales as a result of bTB in herds than there were in 2008. (As reactors, inconclusive reactors and direct contacts.)
The disease is in decline because of the increase in cattle testing over the last two years, along with the removal of infected cattle, the real vectors of this disease. If all the many recommendations for improvements regarding cattle control measures, given by the ISG in their final report, were implemented, the disease would rapidly disappear as it did in the 1960's without badger culling. (Note that W.D. Macrae the Chief Veterinary Officer at the time, in his final report to the government, does not mention badgers once).
However if we fail to get these figures out now as the cull starts, the decline in cattle TB will be acknowledged and attributed to the badger cull. It will be the excuse for extending the programme over the whole of the country! WAG has been very quiet about the decline of bTB in Wales as it demonstrates convincingly that even their limited cattle measures are having some effect. There was never a reason to consider culling badgers. WAG's whole premise for culling badgers was that the disease was 'un-sustainable and out of control.' The estimated compensation bill given in 2008 by Elin Jones for 2014 was 80 million. That figure now looks absolutely ludicrous!! The only factor out of control was the industry itself, already we note that overdue TB cattle tests so proudly claimed by WAG to be down to near zero last year have risen dramatically to 702 this year.
Other Countries (especially New Zealand and Australia) experiences show that unless you take cattle movements seriously you will never eliminate/control this disease in cattle. WAG tries to use these countries approach to eliminating bTB to try and justify badger culling in Wales. This is very misleading. Below are some important facts from the men in charge.
NewZealand , Bryce Buddle stated in London 3rd March 2006: "Even in the wake of an expansion of wildlife vector risks (40 million possums to 60 million) the number of cattle herds with TB had reduced by 80% over the past 12 years"
Australia. Paul Wood stated in London 3rd March 2006: "Testing alone even with strict interpretation, was not the answer and not until strict movement controls were in place from 1970 on a national scale with roadside monitoring and enormous power invested in the inspectors was any real progress made."
THE ERADICATION OF BOVINE TUBERCULOSIS IN GREAT BRITAIN bBy W. D. MACRAE, M.R.C.V.S., D.V.S.M. can be found at http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:I7GDMcFuUZMJ:www.sybadgergroup.f9.co.uk/Maff%2520man%2520final.doc24.08.07.doc+THE+ERADICATION+OF+BOVINE+TUBERCULOSIS+IN+GREAT+BRITAIN+By+W.+D.+MACRAE,+M.R.C.V.S.,+D.V.S.M.&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk&client=safari
6 Aug 2011, 5:20 PM
Latest TB Statistics Defra have published statistics for the period January to the end of April 2011 (www.defra.gov.uk/statistics/foodfarm/landuselivestock/cattletb/). They show the number of cattle slaughtered in Wales due to TB is continuing to decline. Figures for West Wales now show a reduction of 54% over the same period in 2009, with a 12% reduction compared to the same period in 2010. The number of new herd TB incidents is also lower. West Wales had 40% fewer new herd incidents compared with the same period in 2009, and 5% fewer compared with the same period in 2010. Pembrokeshire Against the Cull has apparently been told that Defra are looking very closely at the encouraging data from Wales.
8 Jun 2011, 7:01 PM
Email from GL dated 7 June 2011. He says: 'Cattle TB in Wales still declining without any badger interference. With less cattle now infected there is stastically less chance for cattle to become infected so numbers should spiral downwards assuming all eradication procedures are strengthened and rigorously adhered to.
Wales. Positive reactor figures compiled from DEFRA statistics
Year/ Cattle tested/ Reactors found/ Percentage of reactors to number tested
In 2008, when the WAG first suggested badger culling, over 7 cattle (0.74%) reacted positively to the bTB in every 1000 tested. In 2011, they are finding just over 3 reactors (0.32%) per 1000 tests. This represents just over 3 cattle to every 1000 tested. Mastitis results in the slaughter of roughly 170 cows per 1000 milking cows each year!!!
In Dyfed Jan+Feb 2010, 521 herds experienced a TB breakdown. Jan+Feb 2011 466 herds experienced a TB breakdown
Number of Cattle slaughtered in Wales 2008 was 12,043. In 2010 it had dramatically fallen to 7,690. There is absolutely no sign of the disease ‘cycling back upwards’ as was suggested it would by the WAG. Two new serious diseases found/originated in cattle, new forms of MRSA and E.Coli both resistant to antibiotics may force the industry to re-examine how dairy farming is conducted'.
24 May 2011, 7:18 PM
A look at the most recent 'Detailed TB Statistics' for period 1 Jan 28 Feb shows a continuing decline in the number of cattle testing positive to the TB test in Wales.
8 May 2011, 1:34 PM
MG in email dated 27/4/11 said' I also spotted the increase in tests however the cattle slaughtered per 1000 tests is almost the same in Jan as the average for 2010. Looking back I was quite surprised at the monthly variation in tests carried out. Is there an obvious "farming" reason for this?'
He also mentioned a couple of quotes to him from a farmer friend who has just come off restriction.
'Think tb will continue to fall now that the compensation is not very generous.' 'Even the Ministry Vets don't very often use calipers. Vets are so experienced they can tell by feel.'
8 May 2011, 1:26 PM
Email from GL dated 27/4/11
There are more cattle slaughtered this Jan than Jan 2010. There are 13% more cattle tested though. Total new herd incidents 2011 Dyfed 38 Wales 96
2010 42 84
Herds under restriction Dyfed 2010 735 Wales 1376 2011 670 Wales 1336
23 Mar 2011, 6:20 PM
New herd TB incidents rose from 4602 in 2009 to 4703 across Great Britain in the 12 months to 31 December. England’s farms experienced a rise of 300 herd breakdowns to a total of 3622 compared with 3350 herds in 2009, but figures for Wales revealed a decline of almost 200 fewer herd incidents. In England farmers are not subject to the more stringent testing and biosecurity arrangements farmers in Wales have to endure.
Movement restrictions continue to blight cattle farming with a total of almost 8000 farms facing movement restrictions during 2010.
21 Mar 2011, 5:51 PM
A press release from Pembrokeshire Against the Cull (PAC) confirms that the latest bovine tb statistics issued by DEFRA show a decline of 45% in cattle slaughtered due to bovine tb in West Wales over the last two years. This is by far the most sustained and significant reduction seen for many years. Previous falls in 2004 and 2006 lasted only a few months and gave far smaller reductions.
PAC welcomes this significant two year decline in the numbers of cattle being slaughtered and therefore reduced associated taxpayer compensation being paid in West Wales due to bovine tb. The short term reductions seen previously were before the current stringent and effective cattle controls were introduced and took effect. The introduction of annual testing, pre movement testing, then 6 monthly testing in the IAA together with hitting targets for quicker removal of infected cattle has brought bTB levels down significantly without culling any badgers. Such measures directly targeting cattle, along with others such as establishing a regional approach to the disease, have been recommended by scientists to substantially reduce bovine TB for some time.1 We believe these measures should be given sufficient time to continue to make their impact before such draconian action as the destruction of badgers is contemplated.
PAC spokesperson, Dr Gavin Wheeler commented “These are excellent results. The stricter testing regime and improved cattle control measures introduced by the Welsh Assembly Government are having a major impact in reducing the number of cattle being slaughtered due to bovine TB. This is a clear downward trend which should not be put at risk by a badger cull which we believe could cause an increase in bovine tb cases in our area.” “This is excellent news for farmers and taxpayers. If a badger cull had gone ahead last year Elin Jones would have been claiming that culling works, these figures show that the truth would have been very different. “
19 Mar 2011, 9:05 PM
They have reduced it by killing soooo many many cattle geoffrey. Yes you are right, the evidence suggests that the cattle measures are working but should it allay the farmers concerns about it rising again?
I think Elin Jones et.al want, and are promising (rightly or wrongly) to eradicate TB in Wales. Now this is tough talk and they are backing it up with tough (and probably really questionable) actions. Right or wrong their message is clear and simple. perhaps the anti badger cull fraternity need just as clear a message to counter it with.
Farmers want solutions. Now promises are not solutions but they help make the medicine taste less bitter!
History will be the best judge of the final outcome but by then the politicians and the civil servants will have moved on. This is one of the underlying problems with our political system, they are never properly held to account for bad decisions. I assume there is something in the constitution the protects them?
19 Mar 2011, 7:29 PM
18th March 2011
The Welsh Assembly have proved beyond all reasonable doubt that the eliminating of TB in cattle is not at all dependent on the culling of badgers.
Despite considerable more herds and numbers of cattle tested in 2010 than in 2008 there has been a dramatic drop in the number of cattle found with TB. This is reflected in the figures for cattle slaughtered provided by most recent Defra statistics.
Dyfed 2008. 8361 slaughtered in connection with TB program
This represents a reduction in infected cattle of 44.58% over the two years.
Wales 2008. 12,043 slaughtered in connection with TB program
This represents a reduction of 36% less animals slaughtered.
These excellent results should be compared to the ludicrous projections made by Elin Jones in 2008 onwards, of what would happen if badgers were not culled.
If badgers were responsible for the loss of control of this disease in Wales as is often claimed, it begs the question of how control has been achieved without attention to the badgers. If badgers were constantly infecting cattle how on earth has the WAG reduced the figures so dramatically so fast.
Cattle measures are working and remain to be improved. Changes must be made to the way farm animals are dragged around the country with little regard to their welfare or the spreading of disease. It is in this area that attention should now be focused as it has been in Australia and other countries.
7 Feb 2011, 1:26 PM
Provisional Bovine TB Statistics for Wales in the period from the 1st January to the 31st October 2010 reveal a 28% drop in the number of cattle slaughtered in connection with the bovine TB eradication programme, compared to the equivalent period in 2009.
Total cattle culled in connection with the bovine TB eradication programme, in Wales, for the first 10 months of 2010, are as follows:
The figure for the same period in 2009:
This represents a drop of about 28%. 44,612 extra cattle were tested in the 2010 period.
The results for Dyfed over the same period
Jan 1st to Oct 31st 2010 = 4,020
Jan 1st to Oct 31st 2009 = 6,211
This is about a 36% reduction.
A total of around 8,000 cattle culled in 2010 can be expected; a drop of 4,500 since 2008, and all without a badger cull!
Under the 1981 Order it states that the killing of wildlife can be only be allowed as long as no other method for reducing disease in livestock is available. Clearly cattle measures are available and are shown to be reducing the disease and are just one such alternative method along with cattle vaccination and badger vaccination.
4 Jan 2011, 7:00 PM
Bovine TB Statistics for 2010 DEFRA has published statistics for incidence of bovine TB in Wales up to the end of September 2010. These reveal a continue decline in the number of cattle involved in Wales. Based on a monthly average of the number of cattle slaughtered to date - an estimated projection for the total number of cattle slaughtered by the end of 2010 shows a drop of approximately 29% on 2009.
Apparently the drop is even more pronounced in Dyfed - the area that contains the Intensive Action Area. From 1 Jan to Sept 30 2009 the number of cattle slaughtered in connection with the TB eradication programme totalled 5,731 while over the the same period in 2010 it was 3,732 - a 34% reduction so far in 2010 and no badgers culled!
'In the meantime, the number of new outbreaks of TB has shown a very welcome, but slightly mysterious, decline. According to Defra figures for the first quarter of this year, the incidence of disease has fallen by just under 12 per cent for GB as a whole.
But within that figure are all sorts of variations. In the South West for example, the incidence of disease is much the same as last year in Devon, Dorset and Somerset, but in Cornwall, the percentage of herds failing a TB test has fallen by almost 40 per cent. What is the secret of the Cornish success, I wonder? Is it just cyclical, or is there some other factor?
But it does give the lie to suggestions that it may be evidence of some overall change in policy, like tighter cattle controls or a switch to Dutch tuberculin in the testing process, because that would produce a similar effect across all areas.'
22 Jul 2010, 6:56 PM
STILL GOING DOWN ... Defra figures for GB for the first quarter of 2010 show: (note also the caveats about the data: · All data is provisional and incomplete, subject to change as more data becomes available. · When making year on year comparisons of bTB incidence, it is important that these are not made in isolation but in the context of the wider disease picture over a longer timeframe.
A 25 per cent drop in TB related cattle slaughterings to 9122 from 12,175 in the first quarter of 2009. A 10 per cent fall in herd incidents to 1,387 from 1,543. A 13 per cent drop in herds under restriction to 4,645 from 5,344. A 31 per cent drop to 4,861 cattle slaughtered in the west, England’s most affected region. A 77 per cent RISE in England’s north region to 1,543 cattle slaughtered, including a big rise in Staffordshire. A 64 per cent drop to 2,255 cattle slaughtered in Wales, including a 49 drop in Dyfed. basically over the 1st quarter there has been a 64% drop in cattle slaughtered, this is indirect contrast to what the RA minister is claiming……
Source of info (http://www.farmersguardian.com/home/livestock/livestock-news/huge-drop-in-bovine-tb-levels/33278.article)
8 Jul 2010, 7:42 PM
Email from Dr M Snow 7 July 2010
Very interesting data. I'd love to see a breakdown like this for 2008.
Your suggestion about stricter testing does not seem to be the reason. If the skin test was being applied and interpreted more cautiously i.e. borderline measurements were presumed positive rather than being given the benefit of any doubt then whilst this would increase the numbers slaughtered it should reduce the percentages subsequently confirmed with TB after lab analysis. Just about the reverse of this is the case. Between 1998 and 2001 (the peak TB year) over 30% of reactors were proved positive in lab tests, and 'efficiency' dropped off over the next few years to a low in 2005 when only 21% of skin test reactors turned out to have TB. In 2008 the proportion of positive test was back up at 27%.
In 2008 there was a drive late in the year, when the elevated TB figures were clear, to take more 'direct contacts' to slaughter. But whilst this did push up those numbers from 9% in 2007 to 12% for 2008 the proportions of DCs was even higher during 2002 to 2006, when TB levels were definitely falling.
Although the incidence of TB expressed as the percent of those tested leapt up dramatically in 2008 (from 0.6% in 2007 to 0.86% in 2008) it is interesting to note that the proportion of herds newly confirmed positive, at 4.4%, changed very little. This says something like ' same numbers of herds affected but more cattle with the disease'. Indeed, the proportion of new herds confirmed positive has changed little between 2002 and 2008, ranging between 3.9% (2004) and 4.6% (2005). In 2009 it dropped to 3.2% of herds tested; you could argue that this represents a 24% reduction in the average breakdown rate of the previous 7 years.
The whole statistical scene is greatly mysterious and, in the years leading up to the situation where ALL cattle in Wales are tested annually, I'm sure is enormously complicated by variation in herd sizes, the ratios of large to small herds, variations in the areas most tested etc.
Mike has submitted the following response to C Glossop's letter.
When are Dr Glossop (Western Telegraph 30th June), and the WAG, going to come absolutely clean about bovine TB statistics? Here again they are denouncing published information, on which the world at large must base its’ understanding, and seeking to persuade public opinion using currently undeclared and possibly unsubstantiated arguments of their own. Dr Glossop is also guilty of treating statistics selectively and with abandon in using the 2006 and 2008 slaughter figures out of context to imply a doubling in TB.
I do not, and indeed could not, argue that TB is not a serious problem but, without interference with badgers, the situation is improving steadily. Here are the figures for Wales, starting with the low point in 2001: 2001 222,370 cattle tested, 2074 slaughtered (0.93% of tested) 2002 668,202 tested, 5060 slaughtered (.76% of tested) 2003 727,984 tested, 5734 slaughtered (0.79% of tested) 2004 826,541 tested, 5515 slaughtered (0.67% of tested) 2005 928751 tested, 6777 slaughtered (0.7% of tested) 2006 1,097,888 tested, 6065 slaughtered (0.55% of tested) 2007 1,246,334 tested, 7913 slaughtered (0.6% of tested) 2008 1,408,492 tested, 12,043 slaughtered (0.86% of tested) 2009 1,812,666 tested, 9951 slaughtered (0.55% of tested)
Dr Glossop says ‘statistics need to be treated with caution, and analysed over time to observe a trend.’ This I have done and there is a trend over the last 9 years and it is clearly downwards – even including the unexpectedly high 2008 figure. 2008 stands out as an anomaly that needs particular investigation and explanation. For instance, March and April 2008 were exceptionally cold and wet - were cattle kept indoors longer because of this?, or is the elevated figure simply due to catastrophic large-herd breakdowns such as that experienced by the unfortunate Daioni (Harries’) herd? An answer to these questions would be of interest to all who seriously want to eradicate TB.
The data published so far for 2010, to the end of February show 386,016 tested, 1395 slaughtered (0.36% of tested). I would accept that these figures may change a little, as outstanding data is gathered in but it is pretty unlikely that they are in error by 150% (which they would need to be for the TB levels to reach those of 2006) and quite absurd to think that our Government is prepared to publish figures that are 240% out – and that the TB level matches 2008. The fact is that with the exception of 2008, TB levels have been falling steadily since 2001 and will continue to fall provided testing and husbandry practices are efficient.
Sincerely, Dr Mike Snow
8 Jul 2010, 7:32 PM
Email from G Laurens 6 July 2010 Response to Dr C. Glossop’s account of Bovine TB in the IAPA 2003 to February 2010.
Dr C.Glossop states in her letter in the Western Telegraph Wednesday 30 June, (which I have provided at the end of my response) states that in 2003 there were only 324 cattle herds in the IAPA.
“In the intensive action pilot area since January 1st 2003, 213 0f the 324 herds in the area have suffered a TB incident on at least one occasion”.
These are the figures supplied by Dr. C.Glossop in the article in the Western Telegraph 30 June 2010, which I have presented here in a different format.
Total number of TB breakdowns in the IAPA 1st Jan 2003 to present day (7.5 years) was 421.
Herds TB breakdowns
A. 111 0 TB breakdowns over the period of 7.5 years. B. 213 421 maximum (at least one each)
Of the 213 herds in group B
C. 79 79 (exactly one each) D. 134 342 (shared between the 134 herds)
Of the 134 herds in Group D
E. 57 188 3 each (with 17 more breakdowns to share out) F. 77 154 2 each (otherwise they would be in C or E).
Total herds 324 Total breakdowns 421 over 7.5 years equivalent of 56 per year.
The most interesting fact here are the 111 herds that for over 7.5 years managed to avoid TB altogether during this so called epidemic.
I would imagine no area in the IAPA is free from badgers and if some badgers are infected and able to infect cattle why have these 111 herds stayed ‘clean.’ If badgers are so infectious, as is often claimed, why have they been unable to infect 111 herds in a TB hotspot or by implication even neighbouring clans of fellow badgers, over a period of seven and a half years? Why did they not re-infect Group C or even Group F? How did these herds become clear of the disease?
Group C had 79 herds with only one breakdown, over the 7.5 year period. Group F had 77 herds with only 2 breakdowns.
You are left with only 57 herds, with three or more breakdowns. (188 breakdowns in this group altogether over 7.5 years). What were the farmers of these 57 herds doing differently, that was making it so difficult to eradicate the disease.
It seems that it is not just Defra making’ processing errors’ as she claims in the article. She also incorrectly states 142 herds, where it must be 134, otherwise the figures do not add up. (See D).
In an attempt to possiblly throw suspicion on badger involvement or to imply a worsening of the situation, Dr C.Glossop states:
“In 2003 the average period time a herd stayed ‘clean’ from TB before re-infection was identified was 874 days. For 2009 it was only 209 days”.
This fact was purely a reflection of the length of time between testing. The shorter length of time between tests the sooner you find the disease/re-infection. The testing interval in 2009 was considerably shorter (1 year test on all herds) than the 2/3/4 yearly testing regime in 2003.
The facts so obviously missing in the article are the figures for herds under movement restriction for having TB on the farm, now in the IAPA and each month for the preceding 2 years.
How many new breakdowns have they experienced, were there in the three following years, 2008, 2009 and the first six months of 2010 in the IAPA? We must have these facts in the public domain! Why were these facts not forthcoming in the letter? We can only surmise that the facts were being used selectively. One reason could be to portray disease prevalence as worse than it really is. Another reason for withholding basic facts is that it further obscures any possible outcome of badger intervention.
With the Court arguing about a ‘substantial reduction’ it seems odd to me that no one seems to know the actual amount of TB in the IAPA now. (We only have figures for Dyfed to the end of February 2010). For example, in the extreme case, if there was ‘none,’ how could you make a substantial reduction? Does not a ‘substantial reduction’ depend on there being a more than substantial amount there in the first place? Perhaps there isn’t! WAG hasn’t made public the latest figures. The breakdown figures she did give could have mostly occurred before April 30 2009. We have no evidence of one single breakdown in the IAPA in 2010!
In 2009 there were 234 (309 in 2008) confirmed new incidents in Dyfed according to Defra. Dyfed has 4,750 Herds of cattle The IAPA has 324 herds about 6.8% of the total. 6.8% of 234 confirmed new incidents leave only (estimated) 16 confirmed new breakdowns in the IAPA, in 2009. With the rate of decline and more stringent measures being applied, (still nowhere near adequate according to the experts) this disease should have disappeared in the IAPA in 3 or 4 years. I cannot see where a ‘substantial reduction’ could be made.
Information on cattle in the IAPA The average herd size in the IAPA area is 63. (Cattle Book 2008. Defra). Number of herds is 324 (stated above by C.Glossop) The total number of cattle in GB has declined by 6% from 2003 to 2008. Total number of cattle (2003-2008) in the IAPA at any one time is an estimated 19,187.
The letter by Dr C. Glossop
Dear Editor - I have recently been reading newspaper articles and other material published by Pembrokeshire Against the Cull that talks about the Welsh Assembly "hiding" the fact that rates of bovine TB in Wales have fallen dramatically. This is not the case. Statitistics need to be treated with caution, and figures need to be analysed over time to observe a trend. In 2006, the number of infected cattle in Wales dropped slightly but by 2008, the cases of bovine TB in cattle had doubled from 6,000 to around 12,000. It is frustrating to see campaigners misusing statistics for their own ends because this is still early days in the fight against bovine TB and infection is still rife in our countryside. I wish it was true to say that we have turned a corner in this TB epidemic, but this is not yet the situation nor the experience of farmers in many parts of Wales, including the pilot area. In the Intensive Action Pilot Area since January 1st, 2003, 213 of the 324 herds in the area have suffered a TB incident on at least one occasion. Seventy-nine have been 'one-off' incidents with the remaining 142 herds suffering 342 breakdowns between them with 57 of these herds experiencing three or more breakdowns over the period. In 2003 the average period of time for a herd to remain 'clean' from TB before re-infection was identified was 874 days. For 2009 it was only 209 days.There have been a number of processing errors in the DEFRA statistics, which have included the under-reporting of animals slaughtered in 2009 and the numbers of herds under restriction for February 2010 that we are waiting for them to correct.It is likely the constant cycle of infection and re-infection is occurring through a combination of factors including cattle to cattle spread and through contact between cattle and infected badgers.
We have introduced measures to limit the risk of infected cattle moving into the area and spreading disease, and we are testing cattle more often in the pilot area. But we also need to break the cycle of infection between cattle and badgers or we won't see an end to the constant nightmare of infection and re-infection.Later this summer we will be publishing a report on the outcome of TB Health Check Wales, commissioned at the beginning of the TB Eradication Programme to give us a more accurate picture of the disease in Wales.It confirmed what we expected, that TB was continuing to spread in Wales. If you would like to see the statistical information about the pilot area you can visit www.wales.gov.uk/bovinetb
Dr Christianne Glossop Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales, Welsh Assembly.
No Country has demonstrated convincingly that control of a ‘possible wildlife bTB vector’ has ever contributed to the overall control of cattle TB.
Australia had no identified wildlife vector of cattle TB in spite of most marsupials being highly susceptible to the disease. (e g. brush-tailed possums). There were some feral bovines (water buffalo) in one small area that were dispatched before the approximately 30 year bovine TB control programme began. Paul Wood, Australia’s TB expert stated emphatically that it was their extremely rigorous cattle measures and especially the absolute control of cattle movements, by rigid enforcement (Ref 1), that brought their cattle TB under control.
New Zealand brought their cattle TB down by similar cattle based measures, despite the presence of 65 million, brush-tailed possums, identified as ‘a possible wildlife vector.’ All attempts to eradicate them have failed so far. TB expert, Bryce Buddle from New Zealand, stated in 2006: (Ref 1) “ Even in the wake of an expansion of wildlife vector risk areas the number of cattle herds with TB had reduced by 80% over the past 12 years” .
Most other Countries achieved success in controlling cattle TB with little or no wildlife intervention. For example: USA, Sweden, Scotland, and some other European countries, including ‘historically’ Great Britain. These Countries achieved success by employing, enforced and effective cattle control measures mentioned above.
Scotland National Heritage states it has badgers (the identified possible wildlife vector) and cattle living together in some areas of Scotland in similar densities, to South West England. They add that it is likely some badgers and other wildlife in Scotland have a low level of bTB infection. In 2004, advice was sought by Animal Health and Welfare, part of the Scottish Executive, for a policy change which would have seriously drawn attention away from ‘cattle measures’ on to controlling or eliminating wildlife vectors. ‘Scottish Natural Heritage’ offered excellent advice, and the unnecessary policy change was avoided. Employing the use of rigorous cattle measures alone, Scotland became the only country in the UK in 2010 to have official TB free status.
England, Wales and Eire, have failed to implement the necessary rigorous cattle measures, especially robust cattle movement controls. Inadequate measures that do exist are not always adhered to. Enormous resources are focused on, studying/culling badgers, the identified ‘possible wildlife vector.’ Reliance on reducing this small threat to reduce the cattle TB, has resulted ultimately in poor control of disease in cattle. bTB vaccination of cattle and badgers however, could be deployed now and be of real benefit in a new progressive approach to this disease.
The following quotes explain why countries, which have focused on cattle based measures to control their cattle TB, are more successful than those that have not.
“Over 95%, of the cases of bovine TB, is transmitted through direct contact between cattle”. Prolonged ‘nose to nose’ contact (Ref 2) between cattle.
“Contaminated feed and water account for a very small percentage of bovine TB cases. Transmission of TB through the contamination of the environment has not been documented in the US” (Ref 3).
Refs: 1 City Inn, John Islip Street, London. Ten TB experts from different countries including Paul Wood, and Bryce Buddle attended a meeting at the invitation of Professor Bourne on March 3, 2006. Proceedings were recorded.
2 FD Menzies and SD Neil. Cattle to cattle transmission of bovine tuberculosis. The Veterinary Journal,2000 160,92-106. Often quoted as:“Prolonged nose to nose contact between cattle.”
3 California Department of Food and Agriculture 2009.
2 Jul 2010, 2:21 PM
Scotland is facinating, the Animal Health people were seriously proposing a badger cull in 2004 with only 21 cases of TB in cattle. Scotland Natural Heritage pointed out that it had jumped from 4 cases a year to 21 because of the foot and mouth restocking. Read thier response on the following link. http://www.snh.org.uk/pdfs/strategy/PS43-04.pdf
I have telephone high and low for info on the stats and eventually was telephoned by a vet in England from an Animal Health office in Herefordshire. It seem that the backlog of late tests that WAG have been talking about (711) for nearly a couple of years and that were mostly overdue by more than a 1 year or two, has now gone, just to be replaced buy a new bunch about the same size 702 which are late by up to only 6 months but most are just a few weeks. What a testing programme!
It doesn't affect the stats though, you just subtract these late tests from the total of herds under restriction on that date regardless of why they are late or whatever. You still end up with the massive drop in herds under movement restriction for actually having bTB reactors on the farm that I quoted. Even more when you factor in all the extra tests conducted in the year leading up to Feb 28 2010 compared to the year leading up to April 30 2009. If, as they are claiming, the figures from Defra are erroneous, then we might quite legitimately claim that there is no TB in the area at all and wait for them to prove otherwise!!!
2 Jul 2010, 2:13 PM
Email received from GL dated 23/6/10 Statistics for Wales, DEFRA Website
Total Number of confirmed new TB incidents for Wales
Wales Total 2008 578 2009 521
3,891 more herd tests conducted in 2009 than in 2008
Cattle slaughtered in Wales
As reactors 10,542 9951 As inconclusive reactors 230 166 As direct contacts 1,271 316 Total number of cattle slaughtered 12043 10,433
We see that there were 1,610 less cattle slaughtered in 2009 than in 2008. This is in spite of 404,174 more cattle tested in 2009 than in 2008 2008 saw a total of 1,408,492 cattle tested 2009 saw a total of 1,812,666 cattle tested
Whichever figure you look at, the trend is heading down.