Saturday, July 15, 2006

Just like double decker buses...

....either none arrive at all - or two come together. And so it was with Defra's Tb statistics. Shock, horror and nothing (that we can find) in February, then the March figures diluted with missing February and a still-increasing January. Defra released figures for the four months to April only a week ago, unusually pointing out a drop in incidents / cattle slaughtered of 27 percent. Which was less than Jan - March 29 . 'something' percent, but we won't dwell on that.

But the figures for May are now published, also showing a 'drop' over the 'five months' - of 20 percent. Defra explain:

"There has been a substantial reduction in the number of new TB incidents in January - May 2006 compared to the same period in 2005. The provisional statistics presented here indicate that this reduction is 20%, although this figure will reduce as further test results are input by AHDOs. It is too early to draw any conclusions about whether the decrease is a temporary or a more sustained reduction and further analysis is needed to identify the reasons for the fall. However, it is likely to be caused by a complex combination of factors. There is no evidence at the moment that the switch in tuberculin supply has caused this reduction although further analysis is required before this can be confirmed."

As the switch to Lelystad happened progressively from last autumn and the parachute drop in numbers only occurred after Christmas, and then only in certain counties, with that we would agree. However, we do hope that Defra's "analyses" include batch numbers of the tuberculin which in some instances gave no 'reaction' at all, not a single lump, for over a month. But we wouldn't bank on them asking those sort of questions, to the right sort of people.

Anyway, it seems to us, that there has now been a dramatic increase in herds going under Tb restriction, and cattle slaughtered. The tuberculin intradermal skin test is working again. Whatever happened to the serum in late January / February, ain't happening now. An extra 324 herds are under restriction from last month, and Defra shot 1,911 cattle (568 in April)
And Defra's unannounced almost 30 percent drop in cases, is now 20 percent.

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