Wednesday, August 04, 2004

"UK way behind NZ on Tb control"

A letter from a NZ farmer to our farming press expressed amazement at the lack of control of Tb he was witnessing in the UK.
"You are way behind NZ in Tb control"

He goes on to say:
" We have vector control programmes and we are aware that Tb can effect our export market, so we try to keep it under control."

He then asks:
"Does the UK want to be clear of this disease, or would it rather close farms, and have infected wildlife running free? This might be a great plan for a large 'rural playground' with no farms".

Sometimes it's a salutary lesson to see ourselves as other see us. " A rural playground with no farms, and infected wildlife running free"?. The flaw in this bucolic idyll of course is that tuberculosis, (including m. bovis) is a zoonosis, and as a secondary to such diseases as AIDs, the biggest killer of human beings on the planet. How long before we are the 'spill over' from 'infected wildlife running free'?

Below is a press release from NZ, describing their efforts to control Tb.

Massive Possum kill programme starts.

"A massive possum killing operation in the Hunter Hills, amongst the largest ever undertaken by the Animal Health Board (AHB) has begun.

Work has started laying cyanide bait stations. The programme has funding of $400,000 (NZ) for the first year's work, with this likely to decline as possum populations reduce.

Response from the public has been positive. Any enquiries are dealt with by the contractor.

Initial surveys of vectors ( wild animals known to carry the disease) around the deer herds produced no positive results, but as 2 herds recently tested positive east and west of the Hunter Hills in the last 18 months, the AHB has decided to establish a buffer zone to protect the 1000 cattle herds in the Waimate area, which are considered 'at risk'.

Possums have been targeted as the 'maintenance host'. It is difficult to detect the disease in them, but once established, it can stay there for generations.

At the moment there are 62 cattle herds in Canterbury listed as infected with Tb.
The AHB aims to reduce this number to 7 by 2013, and believes it will do so, provided there are no outbreaks in unexpected areas."

Compare and contrast, as the NZ farmer did, with our non - policy in the UK.
He is wrong however, to think that the UK does not know what to do.

It is not that we do not know, but there are those in power who do not wish to know.
One could describe the UK's non-policy as 'constructive ignorance'.

(see also "Tuberculosis and the .............." archived on this site)

1 comment:

Matthew said...

A New Zealand farmer has contacted this site to confirm his country's action on bovine tb.
10.80 (that's rat poison to you and me) is dropped from light aircraft in the 'movement restricted ' area, while in the buffer zones around, operatives on foot, bait with cyanide to stop any inward movement.
The NZ farmer tells us that the problem in the possums has spilled into their feral ferrets now, so action is needed on them too.
Not Eliminate, Eradicate or any other E word. Just thin down the population to a level where the endemic disease does NOT spill over into anything else.
Sounds sensible to us.