Extract: You cannot even think about skirting around the 'wildlife reservoir, when planning a strategy for bTB. It's really that simple. Get rid of those infected badgers - or get rid of your cattle. And it doesn't take years either. Remove the source and two 60 day tests - you're clear. Leave them to keep reinfecting and you'll be under lock down permanently.
Message received from Bovine TB Blogspot April 2011I can only go by our own experiences Mary. The RBCT found (unexpectedly) two absolute horrors here in May 2003, and after that our problems of the previous 5 years cleared. We had a few hiccoughs with inconclusives as we restocked with beef calves, and as other people's badgers came in to the vacuum that was our land. We had two reactors in Jan 2009. That was after 'loosening up' our own controls. And I'm not going into too much detail about that.We started again, and had a completely flat test Jan 2010, also the six month 'check test' in June 2010, and the two lots of preMT calves - 60 animals including three bulls - tested Feb and April were totally flat. And as you know, we exported a bull last year. The two other mature bulls we sold are both fine, and one chap wants another one !Our neighbour across the valley mirrors our experience, but another neighbour who stopped his own 'control' has had a major breakdown in his dairy herd, losing about 43 over the last year. He's just about out now.There will be no 'official' cull. Farmers are on their own. And the Mammal Society reports of road kill badgers in Wales dropping like a stone is a good pointer to why cattle reactors in the previous SWW hotspots are dropping in parallel. It's not rocket science. Some will have died of TB as the disease overwhelms whole groups rather than individuals, but many, many farmers are taking their own action as well.As to OTF status,we don't have it, never have had it (PQs confirm) and the paperwork is drawn up ready to invoke a ban on all bovine products, if and when. We covered that in 2004.1. The PQs - all 538 of them ! - and which form the basis of the blog give a completely different slant on the skin test than Defra / Bourne's axis, as does my own experience of ten years of restriction, 70 dead cattle and a drip feed of 'challenge' from badgers.28th Jan 2004 Col 382W [ 1500495]"....the comparative intradermal tuberculin skin test at standard interpretation, provides sensitivity in the range 68 per cent to 95 per cent, and specificity in the range 96 percent to 99 percent."(The 68% refers to a single animal, tested once, not a herd tested regularly. When TB is confirmed, the skin test result is ratcheted down to 'severe' interpretation increasing sensitivity even more.)30th Jan 2004; Column 540W ""All countries that have either eradicated, or have a programme to control bovine tuberculosis use one or more forms of the skin test.The government is not aware of any country that has replaced the skin test as the primary test for bovine tuberculosis"25th March 2004; col 988W "Any single test with imperfect sensitivity, when applied more than once to an infected animal, will cause the overall sensitivity of the procedure to rapidly approach 100 per cent...."25th March 2004: Col 989W [ 159061]"Evidence from other countries shows that, in the absence of a significant wildlife reservoir, cattle controls based onj regular testing and slaughter, inspection at slaughterhouses and movement restrictions (including tracing and contiguous testing) can be effective at controlling bovine tuberculosis without vaccination."...Which begs the question, of course - what happens if a country lets an infected wildlife reservoir rip?I think much has been made of a wild mathematical assumption in the ISG Final Report:7:4 (p140)"Thus, if for example the true sensitivety of the test is 75 per cent, infection will remain undetected in one in four herds with a single infected animal. Given that only one confirmed reactor is detected at the disclosure test in about 30 percent of breakdown herds, this represents a large number of additional infected herds that may remain undetected".But the 'true sensitivity is not 75% is it? See above. But that little mathematical gem has snuck unchallenged into Defra's rule book.So what happens if the sentinel cattle are listened to, and the wildlife reservoir constantly infecting them is addressed?28th Jan 2004; Col 385W "No confirmed cases of tuberculosis in cattle in the area of the Thornbury operation were disclosed by the tuberculin test in the ten year period following the cessation of gassing"and why would that be?:24th March 2004; Col 824W "The fundamental difference between the Thornbury area and other areas in the outh west of England, where bovine tuberculosis was a problem, was the systematic removal of badgers from the Thornbury area. No other species was similarly removed. No other contemporaneous change was identified that could have accounted for the reduction in TB incidence within that area".(They gassed for 6 - 8 months, and then left the badgers to recolonise. After ten years, badger numbers were at pre cull levels. At the start of the programme the just 5.7 % of the cattle herds were under a TB2 notice. Parts of this country now have up to 30% herds under TB2 lock down.)2. BCG in some form or another is the only vaccination used with tuberculosis. And it most certainly is not 'proven' - except to have an efficacy of between 0 - 80 percent, depending on the candidate and the size of the expected challenge. And it is our ex Porton Down veterinary pathologist's opinion that in the face of the enormous challlenge posed to cattle (and now other mammals) from badgers, it would be totally ineffective. "A daft idea" was what he actually said - similarly the widely publicised 'vaccinate badgers' efficacy which he described as "an outrageous bit of mischief".3. You cannot even think about skirting around the 'wildlife reservoir, when planning a strategy for bTB. It's really that simple. Get rid of those infected badgers - or get rid of your cattle. And it doesn't take years either. Remove the source and two 60 day tests - you're clear. Leave them to keep reinfecting and you'll be under lock down permanently.It's now seven years since we, with much help from vets, WLU people, and veterinary pathologists asked those questions, and I'm tired of repeating the answers.Nothing has changed except we are going in circles. So I've locked the comments.The reservoir in badgers is colossal, and it is unchallenged. Their numbers are increasing at a frightening rate with TB endemic in many populations.TB was ever going to spill over in increasing numbers to other mammals. And Defra's valiant efforts to dumb down those numbers makes no odds to owners of hundreds of animals dead with 'badger TB'..