Tuesday, September 26, 2006

90 pages of.........Fluff.

The editor and her team of 14 Very Important Persons profess 'pride' in their glossy booklet, which Defra has produced to promote 'Disease Control, Animal welfare, Consumer protection and Public health'. Not doing too well on bTb are they? Unless a succession of glossy booklets and stakeholder partnerships count as 'Disease control'.

"I am proud to present you with the first Government Veterinary Journal bovine TB special edition." can be viewed here

Editor Linda Smith then enthuses that her readers will 'learn from it', pointing out that 'contributions have been made by some of the UK's leading authorities on bovine tuberculosis".

Aside from making the damn thing sound like a MacDonald's Special, what, may one ask, has the editor, or anyone else involved in this whole charade got to be proud of?

After almost eradicating bTb in the 1980's, the 2005 figures for bTb are back where GB was in the 1950's at the start of the Tb eradication programme. Define progress?

Skimming the 90 page A4 tome's content shows little new, even less to be enthusiatic about - even its "recycled paper, containing 80 per cent consumer waste, and 20 per cent totally chlorine free virgin pulp," could probably have been better used - eeerr elsewhere.

The introduction by the CVO Debbie Reynolds contains many weasel words - stakeholders, partners and the commitment of Government to developing policies. Then she spoils it all by regurgitating the first year's Krebs results - yup, the ones John Bourne was spitting feathers about and alleging he was being misquoted in our post here.

Dr. Reynolds also mentions pre movement testing, about which she is enthusiastic and the tabular valuation which she says "is designed to be fairer to both cattle owners and taxpayers" . That is a matter of opinion, but is now somewhat outdated by the EU bombshell of last week, which we covered here.

She concludes: "The range of policy mechanisms available for controlling Tb depends largely on achieving a better understanding of the disease, how it is spread, and the effectiveness and practicality of interventions and the outcomes of our research programme and other evidence will help us with this."

Understanding the disease? It's really quite simple. Badgers carry bTb - in some cases an overwhelming load from which they eventually die - and cattle are curious.

To identify another creature, cattle sniff and smell (see above)

And if that 'other creature' is carrying mycobacterium bovis in its lungs, urine or pus ridden bite wounds, as infected badgers do - 300 units in just 1ml of urine - then a sniff of just 70 units of the bacteria is enough to flag up a reaction in the skin test. And that means another dead sentinel cow.

We are back to the appalling level of bTb reactors slaughtered of 1959 - in fact last year we exceeded it - and the lady wants more research? Almost 50 years wasted, 30,000 cattle dead annually, our trading status in tatters and the spill over from infected badgers affecting cats, dogs, pigs and camelids - and the lady wants more research? Sheeesh.

The Parliamentary Questions archived on this site were the millenium equivalent of the Evans postulates - the gold standard in epidemiology. What do we know about this disease? How is spread? For how long and under what circumstances can the bacterium survive? What is the infectious load carried by an infected badger, and how long can it survive carrying it? How little does it take to infect a cow? What are the transmission opportunities? And all the other 532 questions answered patiently - or not - by baby Ben Bradshaw, with the Minister finally admitting that "Government recognises that eradication of bovine Tb is unlikely to be achieved in the next 10 years using current control methods" Well he got that right and he continues "A desirable outcome would be achieve Officially Tb free status, as defined in EU Directive 64/432/EEC".

But from Ricardo de la Rua Domenech's charts in this dead tree booklet (OK, recycled dead tree ) that ain't going to happen any time soon. Only Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Italy and Spain have a worse record of disease clearance. The UK (GB) trend over the period 1999- 2004 is unique in the Community, described as 'Increasing steadily'. Something else for the contributers and editors of this book to be proud of?

Other contributers from the circle of Tb beneficiaries, offer their thoughts on the Intradermal skin test (good world wide tool - yup we knew that) the value of NVL reactors ; not 'false positives' but animals picked up early in the disease transmission cycle (yup- it was useful, but Lelystad tuberclin has stuffed that) and wildlife interface in other countries. Been there as well.

But there is nothing in this booklet about the disease in badgers. Nothing to show the extraordinary suffering, starvation and suppurating abcesses that these creatures are enduring - and spreading to cattle and onwards and upwards into other species. And absolutely nothing about which Ms. Linda Smith and her team should be in the least bit 'proud'.
Those with a strong constitution may view the evidence of abandoning the problem of bTb in badgers at: http://www.warmwell.com/tbbadger.html (Warning: This picture should offend)

Another glossy booklet and a new committee is not a solution to the problem of bTb, which after twenty years of prevarication is now "endemic" in the UK's badgers and producing an "epidemic" in the sentinel cattle. (thankyou Ben) This gaggle of bTb beneficiaries - including Ms. Smith and her editorial team - are the problem. They should hang their heads in shame.

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