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Email received from Ruth Watkins October 26 2007

"I think it is very important that defra release the percentages of seropositives in the flocks and herds they are testing together with the date and the county.

It is typical that they hoard information that they should not.

I wonder what site would like to set up an email site for farmers to give just this information - the county, the date, species tested, the number bled, the size of the whole flock or herd, the number of seropositives- the percentage positive can be worked out for each species.

I will try and communicate with defra about this.

Frank's results are in keeping with the 2006 results as far as such limited work was done in Europe, that is midges much prefer to bite cattle than sheep. Namely the two positive rams (thought to be the reason the virus arrived in his holding in Kent) and 30% of the cattle tested positive and none of the other sheep.

There seem to be unexplained variations in the numbers of sick or dead animals in infected holdings both this year and last in Europe, but the first thing is to have the facts.

We may be fortunate that defra is doing quite a lot of herd and flock screening tests and have good information.

This is the basis of my vaccination policy, to make best use of a limited amount of vaccine I suggested vaccinating cattle first so that no animal however young or old was left unvaccinated, and to do this as deep as possible into the zone surrounding the restriction zone. In fact I would do it for all of Engalnd and Wales. No need for trade restrictions.

The second stage would be to fill in with vaccination of sheep. Also if there was disease in any sheep flock during the summer of 2008 then immediately vaccinate that flock and the contiguous flocks. In the winter 08/09 we would aim that all domestic ruminants were vaccinated before the summer of 2009.

Ruth Watkins


Meanwhile, from Gary in Kansas we receive the following: ToMary Critchley
Sent: Friday, October 26, 2007 4:08 PM
Subject: Transparency in Animal Disease Reporting - News Release Explains Situation in Minnesota BTB Problem

Reading this press release leaves little to anyone's imagination, doesn't it?   Now compare this to the way such an investigation is conducted in the UK.   The differences should be apparent.   The most basic tenets of good journalistic reporting are, indeed, provided here and more.

Who, What, Where, When, Why and How, plus ways and means to contact those in charge of these programs, with goals and explanations by the Minnesota State Veterinarian.

It's too bad others in this world of rapid transmission of media news can't seem to follow this good example.

Burkie in Kansas

Minnesota TB Investigation Discovers An Infected Cattle Herd

Beef cattle herd within 10-mile area tests positive for bovine TB

St. Paul, Minn – The Minnesota Board of Animal Health today announced that a heifer from a farm in Beltrami County tested positive for bovine tuberculosis (TB). Minnesota has now detected bovine TB in eight beef herds in Roseau and Beltrami counties.

The Beltrami County beef cattle herd was quarantined last year after the TB investigation revealed the owner had purchased animals from a TB infected farm. A whole-herd test was conducted and at that time, all animals tested negative. During the second, follow-up herd test conducted this fall, two animals tested suspect for bovine TB. Tissue samples were submitted to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa and a diagnosis of bovine TB was confirmed in a 12-month-old beef heifer on Tuesday. The second animal was negative. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is coordinating the details of indemnification and depopulation. State and federal officials have already begun tracking the movement of animal into and out of this operation.

Minnesota Board of Animal Health Executive Director and State Veterinarian Dr. Bill Hartmann said the new finding may be explained by the way bovine TB spreads and develops. “Bovine TB is caused by slow growing bacteria with a long incubation period. That is why it is so important to test high-risk herds twice,” said Hartmann. “Due to the nature of the disease and the way in which it spreads by direct animal to animal contact, we need to be sure that we have found and eliminated all of the disease. Finding another positive herd will  reset our timeline for regaining status, but for the sake of Minnesota’s cattle industry, we cannot leave a single infected herd undiscovered.”

In addition to traces and area testing, the state is conducting TB testing in cattle herds statewide. This statewide TB surveillance began prior to the discovery of this infected herd and is expected to be completed by the end of the year. So far, the state has tested approximately 1200 herds, with a goal of 1500. Thus far, all statewide surveillance herds have tested negative for bovine TB.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) plans to continue testing hunter-harvested white-tailed deer in the affected area of northwest Minnesota this fall. Over 2,000 deer have been tested in this area since 2005 and 13 deer have tested positive for the disease. All TB-positive deer were found in a small, localized area within 5 miles of Skime. DNR plans to collect additional samples this fall during the November firearm-hunting season.

"It’s critical that hunters participate in this effort by voluntarily allowing their deer to be sampled," said Michelle Carstensen, DNR wildlife health program coordinator. "DNR is committed to fully cooperating with the Board of Animal Health and USDA in efforts to regain Minnesota’s TB-Free status as soon as possible."

Due to preventative measures taken by the beef and dairy industries and animal health officials, cattle infected with bovine TB pose little risk to human health. The United States has actively pursued a bovine TB eradication program since 1917, which includes food safety initiatives such milk pasteurization and specific examinations of internal organs for TB at slaughter.

All cattle that enter the food supply are inspected at harvest by inspectors that are trained to recognize and report any animals with symptoms of TB and other diseases. It is this inspection process that led to the discovery of the first infected herd in Minnesota.

For more information, call the Minnesota Board of Animal Health Bovine TB Hotline at 1-877-MN TB FREE (668-2373). Additional details on the state’s TB investigation, the disease, and the Board are available online at


























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