Wednesday, September 07, 2005

"You'll find a 'welcome' in the hillsides.....

......when you come home again to Wales."

On the other hand, you may find something else lurking. Tuberculosis.

Over the past four years, the valleys of the Rhondda, and now Powys in South Wales have seen an 'amplifying situation' regarding Tb in human beings. That's 'expert-speak' for getting worse. Much worse, and in groups of people who are not usually associated with the disease but who nevertheless are vulnerable. Primary school children and teenagers.

We make no comment on this story, but offer the following comments and quotes with sources where appropriate.

* GPs are being asked to be vigilant after 40 cases of tuberculosis were found in the Rhondda and Taff-Ely areas of south Wales in just over a year.

* An oubreak control team has been set up after this alarming rise.

* To put it in perspective, experts say they would have expected about a dozen cases in this time.

* Doctors say they have at present no explanation for the dramatic increase in these specific areas, particularly as there has not been a corresponding rise neighbouring areas with similar social conditions etc.

(BBC News - Wales July 2000)

* The growing problem of tuberculosis in young people has been highlighted by a south Wales health authority, which has detected 50 cases.

* Three people have died, including one child.

* Most of the cases in south Wales have developed in clusters and are among children who have never left the UK.

* One problem has been ensuring that diagnosed Tb sufferers took the full 6 month course of the various antibiotics to cure them. Without the full course, at least one-third of people with TB will die from the disease, and another third remain chronically ill.

* Another problem has been the development of resistance [of the Tb bacteria] to antibiotics.

BBC News Wales - March 2001.

* In April 1100 pupils at Duffryn High school in Newport, S Wales were tested for TB following positive test results in eight pupils.

* Two cases found in a school at Porth, Rhondda.

* A Cardiff scool child is 'no longer infectious' after prolonged antibiotic treatment.

BBC News Wales -May 2001

From the area, various 'interested parties' including the FUW, health officials, vets and local people have updated us on this very serious situation.

* Two schools in Powys the latest to report problems amongst their pupils. They are small primary schools at Kerry and nearby Dolfor.

* The lesions in children from these schools are typical of m. bovis, i.e in the neck glands.

* Such lesions may be operable, but any postmortem material is usually dunked in formalin prior to basic slide examination. DNA for strain typing is then more difficult (expensive?) to extract. Some lesions may involve the pituitary gland. Treatment is with an antibiotic or cocktail of antibiotics, one of which has particularly nasty side effects.

* The strain or spoligotype of this particular tuberculosis is of 'non human origin'.

*The strain may be a mutation between an ethnic (non UK) m. tuberculosis bacteria, which is now hosted by badgers.

* It's original source could have been from raw or partially treated infected human sewage, to which badgers gained access.

* Many dead badgers have been seen in the area.

* Although there are no setts on the school playing fields, badgers have latrines there which are accessible to the children.

* Local councils fear exposure of the problems would lead to the closure of the schools, one of which has around 40 pupils.

As we said, we have deliberately not made any comments on this story, except to say short term sticking plaster politics is not going to protect the children or the badgers of S. Wales from what is a nasty, virulent and potentially fatal disease.


Anonymous said...

Well, I did suggest some time ago on this site that there could be a risk to children. I did not expect this, though (and it just might be unrelated to badgers, I suppose).

Matthew said...

"might be unrelated to badgers...?"

Porcine aviation??

We hope that it will be linked to badgers - this whole mess has been tied to badgers / cattle and cattle / badgers. And it is not stressed often enough, nor loudly enough that tuberculosis is a disease of other species including human beings as well.

It's a great pity the strain which badgers / cattle share is known as mycobacterium bovis. Gives the impression that it is confined to cattle ( and badgers)

Farmers from the area are telling us that the slag heaps of the Rhondda are honeycombed with badger sets now, but that they come down to the pastures (and playing fields) to feed.