Former Shadow minister, Owen Paterson MP recently visited the USA, and in particular the state of Michigan to see for himself the response of other countries to a tuberculosis reservoir in wildlife, and in particular the strides made with Polymerase Chain Reaction on-farm diagnostic testing.
In an article (in FWi) written by Owen Paterson, he describes his visit:
"....The USA shows clearly that Bovine TB can be eradicated in cattle and wildlife by a combination of the following:
* Fast, accurate and modern diagnosis.
* Rigidly enforced but workable pre-movement testing and movement restrictions.
* Vigorous, if unpopular, campaign to bear down on disease in wildlife.
It must be emphasised that only a combination of all of these will work. Picking only one or two of them will not eliminate the disease. ..."
"...... new PCR kits, developed for the army in Iraq, are as small as a briefcase and there is absolutely no practical reason why tests could not be done on the environment in the environment from the back of a truck in less than two hours. A well equipped laboratory could do over 1000 a day. They believe that PCR would work on material around setts. It was felt that Ben Bradshaw’s letter to me was quibbling....(US vets were) ... utterly astounded by the grotesque dimensions of the TB epidemic in the UK. .... there was clearly no doubt that we should be pressing the Government to trial PCR technology as we have already proposed. "Read in full
The great and the good gather this week to defend their budgets. Dr. Cheeseman from 'Badger Heaven' other wise known as Woodchester Park, a four year 'trial' into badger BCG (already undertaken in Ireland) and John Bourne to defend - the indefensible Krebs trial. Interestingly Krebs was described by Cheeseman this week as 'rigourous and robust'. As 57 % of the traps were 'interfered with' and 12% went AWOL, and trapping only accounted for between 30 - 60 % of the target group anyway, one may wonder just how bad it would have to get, for the good doctor to consider a 'trial' weak and flawed? But such is Defra's beneficial largesse, that it seems nobody is prepared to forge ahead with tomorrow's technology to identify infected animals and their environment. Australia used PCR in 1997, Michigan in 2001 - but the UK? Forget it, we'd rather kill 30,000 cattle a year, allow a notifiable zoonosis to devastate Britain's badgers and then spill over into - well anything that crosses its path actually.
This country will not wake up, until tuberculosis is reported in domestic pets.
But from February 20th, that will happen. Tuberculosis becomes notifiable in all mammalian species. Bring on the cats.