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Official information e-mail by the ministries of Agriculture and Public Health

(translation)

Update Q-fever 12 January 2010

In this news letter you may find among other things the answer to the question why animals are killed even though one cannot say 100% sure that they are not infected. Also in this letter a short explanation of the distinction made between large farms and 'children's farms'.

Culling 'healthy' animals

Why are animals killed when one is not 100% sure that they are infected? This question is still frequently asked to the Q-fever Information team.

It is impossible to establish at contaminated farms the distinction between infected and not-infected pregnant animals based on individual testing. This is not because the test to show this distinction is not reliable. The problem is that the infected animals do not excrete the Q-fever bacteria constantly. So it could be that a negative result of an individual test would show no infection, when in fact the animal is.

To be sure about the animal not infected it should be tested several times during a longer period. There simply is no time for such procedure at the moment. If the culling of pregnant animals at contaminated farms had not started on 21 December 2009, lambs would already have been born there. With all the consequences implied.

Evaluatiecommissie Q-koorts see PRO/AH> Q fever - Netherlands (05): investigation committee 13 Jan 2010

Bulk milk testing

Many questions have been asked about the 2-week testing for large dairy goat and sheep farms. The results of bulk milk testing can be alternately positive, low-positive and high-positive due to the fact that the infected animals do not constantly excrete the same amount of Q-fever bacteria.

Just after kidding the excretion in milk has the highest level. After that the amount of excreted bacteria decreases. An infected animal could even at some point no longer excrete any bacteria at all. However this does not mean that the animal is no longer infected. As soon as it is pregnant again, the bacteria start multiplying again in the placenta and again there is the risk of millions or billions of bacteria getting released during kidding or abortion. At that point again one can find high levels in the milk.

Because of the animals not constantly excreting the bacteria, a farm is only declared contaminated when the Central Veterinary Institute (CVI) has found the bacteria in a second sample taken at another time.

More information on bulk milk testing can be found at http://www.minlnv.nl/portal/page?_pageid=116,3169799&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL&p_document_id=2124959&p_node_id=2150536&p_mode=BROWSE

Distinction between large dairy goat farms and 'children's farms'

The decision by ministers Verburg (Agriculture) and Klink (Public Health) to spare animals at 'children's farms' and other small-scale farms has produced many questions. One claims "measures by two standards". The control policy however makes a clear distinction between large and small-scale farms.

This distinction is based on the number of animals kept at one place, that therefore will start kidding or aborting at the same time. At small-scale farms there are fewer animals that could excrete the Q-fever bacteria. Therefore these farms are of less risk to public health and therefore the pregnant animals at these farms will not be killed.

In the news release 'Measuring by two standards?' http://www.minlnv.nl/portal/page?_pageid=116,1640333&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL&p_news_item_id=24982 the distinction in the policy is extensively explained. Also the hygiene advice for children's farms' and their visitors.

Parliamentary debate on 13 January 2010 At www.tweedekamer.nl the debate can be seen real time from 1 PM 3PM.

In the Q-koorts information bank http://www.hetlnvloket.nl/pls/portal/url/page/lnvloket/beheer/qkoorts_q of the ministries of LNV (Agriculture) and VWS (Public health) you may find all the (relevant) questions and subsequent answers by the Information team of the ministries.

Any other may be asked at qkoortsvragen@minlnv.nl