Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Left Hand and Right Hand?

In previous posts, we have explored the use of PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) diagnostics to help identify sources of bTb.
(2005 - A good Idea, and US : UK Special Relationship)

Defra appear very much against the idea, despite (through VLA) having part funded the machine now developed by Enigma Diagnostics. But then Defra were against using the Professor Fred Brown's US version, already proven in Macedonia and Uruguay in diagnosing FMD, preferring instead to use computer modelling to slaughter 11 million animals.
So that is no recommendation - in fact probably the opposite.

Defra are currently funding Warwick University to conduct a three year trial - now in its final year - on 140 farms in the SW, into bTb and other forms of tuberculosis, particularly m.avium paratuberculosis - Johnnes disease. The study involves taking regular serum (bloods) from all adult cattle over the 3 year period, both from Reactor cattle and their cohorts who were clear on the intradermal skin test, having not been in contact with the tb bacterium.

During this third phase, faecal samples are collected for analysis of Johnnes.
The paper describes :
"the sensitivety and specificity of the serological tests for MAP (m. avium paratuberculosis) are poor and of limited use to study Johnnes disease in isolation. The faecal samples analysed this year will enhance their usefulness...

To date studies on MAP have used cultures, and more recently PCR.

MAP is a slow growing organism with fastidious requirements. PCR is challenging because MAP is in faeces and has a tough cell wall. These issues have now been addressed by Professor Wellington, and we can now use PCR ....... to study MAP. This may remove much of the confusion over this apparently ubiquitous pathogen..........."

Well, well, well.

Let's hope news of Professor Wellington's 'removal of confusion' and his use of PCR tecnology to do it, funded by Defra, eventually reaches the corridors of power within our Ministry of Conservation. Until then, forgive your editors for reminding the left hand of the paymaster of this research(Defra) that its right hand is using PCR to facilitate this study into a form of cattle tuberculosis - using a technology about which Defra appears not to want to know.

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