June 11 2006 ~ Bovine TB policy and badgers - Letter in the Vet Record
Mr Swarbrick wrote:
SIR, - John Bourne and the ISG in their letter (VR, May 13, 2006, vol 158, pp 671-672) make persuasive arguments that Gallagher and colleagues (VR, March 25, 2006, vol 158, p 418, and previous letters) are quite incorrect concerning the eradication of bovine TB. Like many others, Bourne and colleagues appear to be ignoring several important factors and offering no real solutions.
Over 25 years there does not appear to have been any concerted national action to control, let alone eradicate, the relentless spread of bovine TB. We have an EU obligation to eradicate bovine TB. Given that there are no vaccines, prophylaxis or therapy for bovine TB, we can only adopt the long-established medical and veterinary principles for infectious disease control by removing all infected, and more especially diseased, individuals from any contact with healthy populations. The well-established tuberculin testing of cattle, together with movement and agricultural controls, which have served so well and have now been reassessed and improved, will be unlikely to succeed while cattle are continually exposed to infected and diseased badgers. The ecologists tell us that attempts at badger eradication will not succeed.
This long drawn out debate must be concluded and we await DEFRA's action plan. We need a veterinary consensus as to what to do and how to do it, and veterinarians must also find consensus with the ecologists, who have an important contribution. The problem needs a joint and cooperative approach upon which, so far, we have been unable to agree. The ecologists claim that veterinarians do not listen to their science, and veterinarians conclude ecologists do not appreciate the requirements for effective infection control. We have to find an effective resolution to these apparently incompatible outlooks that will take forward with us the agriculturalists and allow for practical day-to-day husbandry. We also need to persuade the pro-badger lobby that some of their comments are incorrect. Time is not on our side and veterinarians, farmers and the UK as a whole cannot allow the perceived difficulties to be an excuse for inaction.
Will the ISG please now put forward its strategy and protocols for the eradication of bovine TB from the UK and also for preventing diseased badgers from infecting cattle, badgers and all the other animals, bearing in mind that there is a potentially important human dimension.
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