Saturday, October 23, 2004

Tb Spill Over - The Cat's out of the Bag

In an answer to a Parliamentary Question concerning bovine tb in deer, Mr. Bradshaw - or whoever answered those 538 questions - replied that "they were considered a spill over" and not a primary host. Now if badgers can 'spill' tb over into cattle and deer, what else is at risk?

Amongst other things, cats.

At first it was thought that only Siamese and Burmese were 'at risk', but then the penny dropped. The owners of anything less valuable would bury the evidence rather than pay VLA the considerable sums needed to postmortem one very dead moggy.

But cats are susceptible. Postmortems have been done and results logged, from which we quote below.

Breakdowns on farm cats were well documented in USA in 1972, and also in New Zealand, but our story is one which involves badgers as a primary host, several dead cats and no cattle.

In March 1998, a dead badger found on a smallholding was submitted to VLA for postmortem.
It was described as 'generally emaciated', and subsequent post mortem revealed both lung and kidney lesions which were submitted for culture. (We're repeatedly told that badgers don't suffer when they have Tb. This one did, to starve to death in a garden.)

Three months later the carcass of an adult cat from the same smallholding was also submitted for postmortem, and the owner was worried because over the past month 4 other cats on her holding had died.

VLA did an exhumation of the 4 buried cats, and postmortemed the lot.

We won't go into the gory details but, the report describes: " Respiratory distress, weight loss, swelling on the neck glands which proved to be necrotic and oedematous. The lungs were filling with 'grape like lesions' , and the kidneys were affected too. One of the exhumed cats had a cervical swelling which was discharging thick yellow pus, another had had respiratory difficulties prior to death. All showed lung and/or kidney damage".
(But they 'didn't suffer'. Remember that little gem.)

Pooled tissue from the badger and each of 4 cats (the 5th carcass was too badly decomposed to use) was collected separately and tested for mycobacterium bovis. It was also spoligotyped for identification of the strain responsible.

All samples proved to be the same strain - GB spoligotype 20.

The smallholding on which the dead badger was found, and on which the cats died had been home to only horses and ponies for 10 years. There were no cattle. But the area had seen a significant increase in m-bovis infected badgers over the past few years, and the holding is in the centre of a square where recently 22 out of 119 badgers were confirmed with tb. Of those, a third had extensive infection including two individuals who were considered to have died from tb - including the one on the smallholding.

The author of the report, which was published in the Veterinary Record (April 2000 ) concluded :

"M bovis infection in cats, may pose a real zoonotic threat to their keepers".

We agree. As the countryside is plastered with more and more bacteria from an maintenance host who has acquired 'cult status', everything that is susceptible is also at risk. Cattle are only found because we test them. Other species at risk from Bradshaw's quaintly described 'spill over' are deer, camelids, cats and of course, human beings.
So why is mycbacterium bovis being allowed to thrive in the badger? £1 million received (with thanks) from the Political Animal Lobby for a start.
Keep focussed readers.


5 comments:

jacque said...

cats & Bovine TB
I Moved to 20 acre Cornish smallholding in 1988 to farm "Rare breeds" Dexters/Tamwoths/golden gernseys(goats)& Jacob sheep.

My Dexter was show quality, purchased locally she reacted to routine tb TEST the following year. She was in calf with calf at foot. Calf was OK. Cow was distroyed, calf was retested CLEAR again. The Badgers in the sett on my land, were live traped and Shot by MAFF (9in total)postmortem showed NO TB in ANY.
My near neighbours had COWS distroyed by MAFF too, as they tested positive, badgers traped and postmortemed in their land also were NOT carries of the TB. Same year one of my goats got ill. Vet diagnosed Johns desease,an other showed same symptoms so was destroyed.
In all this the was a "FERAL CAT" at the property. This cat had open sores on its face (it was often seen being being sick) but we and nieghbours were unable to catch it. It like all faral cats left its signs(urine & faeces) everywhere. In the Hay barn stock outhouses etc. My neighbour did feed it and found it dead a number of years later.
I had always felt the SICK cat was proberly the real source of infection to our cattle. The tradgerdy of the KILLING so many heathly BADGERS was crazy!!
NOW prof of this "hunch" has evolved.
I question even more VERMENTLY the reasoning behind killing JUST BADGERS With no regaurd to thier heath status,( just oops! sorry they WERE NOT the source of infection on this occasion).!!!!

I work in the Enviromental conservation "wildlife" sector both voluntary and as a day job. Brithish Native Mamals & Wildlife being my pet interest!
I understand the concerns of British Livestock Farmers (first hand)
I feel ashamed that our government is spending so much money on this "out dated method of desease control"
And do NOT advocate the desimation of another one of our (thankfully now abundant) British Native Mamals. Perticulary being singled out in exclusion to the other possible causes of infection. (other wild small mammals, CATS DOGS & others)?

Back to the £££££ cost of all this.
The funds MUST be directed to a Vacine!
We should NOT even consider using any more "BLOOD" money to distroy our any Native Wildlife ( even if it is NOW common & for how long)?

My job sees Millions of £s spent every day (TAX payers money)to help protect and inhance our Native Flora & Fauna.
It would be robbing "Peter" to Pay "Paul"
Vacintation is the only long term answer in my opinion!
Note:
Active member of Cornwall Mamal Group (CMG).ERCCIS
BTCV CWT NT & GreenPeace UK

Matthew said...

Thanks for that Jacques. Welcome to the site.
Cats are extremely susceptible (we understand) to b.tb and we agree that to do a blanket sweep of badgers as was done so disastrously with cattle / sheep in FMD is unacceptable.
But so is leaving the infection to 'spill over' into other species.
What do you think of the PCR diagnostic tool? for details see later posts in January.What about using this to positively identify infective areas / setts/ or individual carriers of tb? (including cats!)
vc

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This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Matthew said...

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Matt