Sunday, June 11, 2006

"Time for a Veterinary concensus"

A letter in this weeks' Vet. Record calls for a concerted and joined up effort on the part of the veterinary profession, to eradicate bTb from any sources which harbour it.

In his letter Bovine TB policy and badgers " A joint and co-operative approach" is needed :
Mr. Swarbrick wrote:
"...... Like many others, Bourne and colleagues appear to be ignoring several important factors and offering no real solutions. Over 25 years there does not appear to have been any concerted national action to control, let alone eradicate, the relentless spread of bovine TB. We have an EU obligation to eradicate bovine TB. Given that there are no vaccines, prophylaxis or therapy for bovine TB, we can only adopt the long-established medical and veterinary principles for infectious disease control by removing all infected, and more especially diseased, individuals from any contact with healthy populations............. We need a veterinary consensus as to what to do and how to do it, and veterinarians must also find consensus with the ecologists, who have an important contribution. ...... We also need to persuade the pro-badger lobby that some of their comments are incorrect. Time is not on our side and veterinarians, farmers and the UK as a whole cannot allow the perceived difficulties to be an excuse for inaction. Will the ISG please now put forward its strategy and protocols for the eradication of bovine TB from the UK and also for preventing diseased badgers from infecting cattle, badgers and all the other animals, bearing in mind that there is a potentially important human dimension." Read in full

(With thanks to )


George said...

I am fairly confident that there exists a veterinary consensus as to what to do and how to do it, as a letter from many vets to the minister a little while ago demonstrated. This would have included most of those in the SVS currently dealing with TB - who were not able to sign the letter (though those who had been in that position but who had retired did sign it). Only a few vets (mainly those with no direct knowledge of the situation - or in the ISG?) would dissent.
Some years ago, the SVS had good relations with the county wildlife groups - mainly because they actually talked to them. The ecologists did not like the badger removals, but accepted that it was the only way to do it – because they knew what was being done, and why.
This communication was ended by the SVS (headquarters, I believe), and things went downhill from there. Getting consensus with them again will be tricky, but the right people could make the case for what must be the only course open to those who want to control this disease. There are probably only a few extremists who will not listen – most serious ecologists are open to a well reasoned argument, I am sure.


Matthew said...

Thanks George, and yes you're right. A general sensible consensus is building, but against a background of misinformation, and downright porkies based on 'tortured data' from a seriously skewed 'trial'. There was no LBB you know - Life Before Bourne.
But we still get barbed comments on the site, castigating us for linking bTb to anything remotely 'human'. Even one telling us "it's bovine, you fools - that means cattle"! The fact that clinicians rarely type the strains, but treat m.bovis and m.tuberculosis similarly in human beings, the only difference being that bovis is resistant to one type of drug, seems to have escaped them. Grief, we aren't doing this (testing and slaughtering cattle ) for the cow's benefit. It's a public health requirement, monitored by the OIE in every country which wants to trade. And because of the wildlife reservoir we've let rip, the UK and Ireland are the worst in the world. That will become a trade barrier when 'someone' wants to manage their markets.
Personally I cannot see any advantage in letting a Grade 3 zoonotic pathogen loose on any species, either for spread of that disease or for the benefit of the reservoir which harbours it. But hey, I'm only a farmer, what do I know.!

Anonymous said...

Matthew said "And because of the wildlife reservoir we've let rip, the UK and Ireland are the worst in the world."

Could you let us have a reference for the data to support this please

Matthew said...

We'll do our best. The OIE site is huge and convoluted. We have noted that figures supplied by Defra to OIE for UK slaughtered cattle, do not tie in with their published total for 2004, which was 22,975. (not 12,000)
Try this link.

There is amongst links from the OIE site, another table with a country's percentage of herds which are under tb restriction. It is from that one that our comment arose. UK and Ireland are at the top with 5 - 6% of their herds affected.
Sorry, can't direct you there at the moment.

Matthew said...
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