"There are 29 strains or spoligotypes of bovine TB, of which 17 are found very infrequently. In the UK the most common is type 9 with type 11 being more common in Devon, type 21 and 9 more common in Somerset and Dorset, and Cornwall being higher in types 9 and 15. The geographical distribution of spoligotypes of bovine TB in badgers has a high level of correlation with the distribution of spoligotypes in cattle. Spoligotype 35 has recently been identified in farmed deer near Ulverston, Cumbria, and linked to a spread to cattle there."
From: Bovine TB Control in Great Britain A Paper for Discussion (pdf) by the National Beef Association. It makes 18 recommendations, including "the obvious potential of a portable PCR cycler machine" (here)
July 24th 2011 ~ More bTB in Cumbria It appears that two cows sold from the Penrith dairy herd in the months before the outbreak was discovered at Plumpton Head Farm, have reacted to skin tests.
All cattle on the two farms where the reactors were found will now be tested. It will be remembered that the outbreak of TB found in April (see below) was found in a "closed" herd. 100 out of the 500 cows had to be killed. No movements of cattle on or off the farm were reported. The herd had been tested "clear" 18 months previously, according to the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency but post-mortem examinations carried out then on the slaughtered cattle caused vets concern over the length of time the disease could have been present on the farm. The new positive tests show that this worry was justified.
Robert Craig, NFU Cumbria county chairman, is quoted by The Cumberland News : "Cumbria has been relatively free from bovine TB but the recent outbreak in the Penrith area shows how it is as much an issue for Cumbria as it is for Devon and Cornwall. Tackling the disease where it has become established is vitally important to make sure it does not become established in this county."
It would be interesting to see if the spoligotype was that found in farmed deer near Ulverston - spoligotype 35.
June 30th 2011 ~ A decision has to be made by July 19th
The Farmers Weekly reminds us that Caroline Spelman,who is believed to have recommended a badger cull in TB areas, now needs to explain to Cabinet colleagues why the policy, although unpleasant, is the only immediate way forward for desperate farmers in the hotspots.
Yesterday's news of a second case of bovine TB in Cumbria (see below) underlines the ever escalating situation - one which is largely misunderstood by people who rightly hate the thought of trapping and killing badgers- but who perhaps forget the painful consequences that the disease brings to infected badgers who spread the bacteria so easily, the carnage it is causing in affected herds - and the misery of those who care about all animals in distress. Affected farmers in Wales are appalled at the Welsh Assembly Government's decision to halt a planned cull of badgers in West Wales. As the FW points out: "The heads of three regional bovine TB eradication boards in Wales have withdrawn their support in protest at the decision. John Owen, Peredur Hughes and Robert Stevenson said they felt "entirely bypassed and badly misled" by the government's decision to review the science behind the TB eradication strategy rather than implement a cull."
June 29th 2011 ~ Grim news from Cumbria
News is coming in of another case of bovine TB at Penrith, close to the first outbreak exactly two months ago where more than 90 animals were slaughtered on a "closed" herd. The outbreak there was a mystery. There had been no movements of cattle on or off the farm it seems and the herd, according to the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency, had been tested "clear" 18 months previously.
Today, the NFU says:
"Testing was initiated by Animal Health immediately following the original TB breakdown and found no spread of the disease to neighbouring premises. Since then, another animal on a neighbouring farm has tested positive."Vets are trying to determine whether any links can be traced between the two affected farms but say it will be "several weeks" before a result is known.
April 30th 2011 ~ Closed farm near Penrith in Cumbria - a TB mystery
As the Farmers Weekly says, Cumbria is facing its 1st large-scale outbreak of bovine tuberculosis - but this is a "closed" herd. No movements of cattle on or off the farm have been reported and there seems no indication that any wildlife in the area has become infected. The herd had been tested "clear" 18 months ago, according to the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency. But post-mortem examinations carried out on the slaughtered cattle this week have caused vets concern over the length of time the disease may have been present on the farm. Read article
See also the article at the Farmers Guardian. Some of the comments are particularly interesting too for the light they throw on the danger to humans from endemic bTB - and about the growing rise in drug-resistant cases spreading around the world (See also Guardian)