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Email received  July 4th 2011
Hi Mary,
I see you've done a post about the numbers miscounted in FMD.
Defra are up to the same tricks in 'other species' - victims of TB overspill.
We were hopeful that these figures for cats, dogs and companion mammals  would engage the public, and break the mythical comfort blanket of TB = cattle / badgers or badgers /cattle. But in 2008, things started to stall.
After many searching questions, we did this posting last year,
which explains some of the disparity, but more has come to light since.
Tuberculosis is not about badgers or cattle. And now the spillover is affecting more and more animals, including pets and companion mammals, it's just a matter of time. And Defra's convoluted and insular way of collating stats is not helpful. In fact it's damned misleading if not duplicitous.
But people are getting wise to this. Slowly.
Table 1 is cultures only - but as cattle owners may know (but the alpaca people did not) only one is taken. The outbreak may involve several animals - up to 108 is the bigest I've heard - but just a single sample will be logged on Table 1. And that may not be the first death.
Table 2 is headed 'animals examined'. Now that is really woolly. Examined? And? Do they then up in Table 1 when cultures are cooked? Or worse, are they the negatives?
Neither. Table 2 figures are carcasses positive for TB by postmortem at either a VI centre or by an LVI vet. And thus the two tables should be added together as totals for animals in which Defra have confirmed tuberculosis by either culture or pathology.
Missing completely are deaths, voluntary euthanasia and skin or blood test failures sent to slaughter. Straight to the knacker yard, or buried. Disappeared.
In this way 2010 figures of 43 alpacas in Table 1, is actually a single sample from each breakdown. The 151 in Table 2 were examined (so 194 went past VLA dead with confirmed TB) but the alpaca TB support group members report around 400 of their animals dead, when skin test and gamma failures are added in.
So the 'way out' Mary, as far as I can see, is to remove the public's long distance comfort blanket of someone else's 'cattle' and substitute ' MY pet' or 'MY alpaca'. Only then will tuberculosis in a wildlife reservoir, become their problem as much as it is for any cattle farmer.
Just a thought