Defra have posted the bTb stats for the period Jan - September and as we predicted, the 'trend' is now firmly .... up.
For the next month only they can be viewed at; http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/tb/stats/latest.htm
Our new, upwardly mobile and agressively ambitious minister, David Miliband (already spoken of in hushed tones as a possible replacement for Towny Bliar) has been firmly stating that while " the bTb statistics were dropping", he would not consider any action on wildlife reservoirs. And while his future promotional prospects are described in such hallowed terms, he is unlikely to do so at all, we might add. The fact that his CVO's report had such half-hidden gems describing the performance of Lelystatd tuberculin antigen, as "less effective because of failing to pick up NVLs (Non Visible Lesion reactors) " which would " result in under dectection of cases, resulting in a transient decline in cases reported, despite there being no true decline in cases" he has of course, ignored - even if we have not. We explored this in August:
Lelystatd tuberculin antigen has now been use for over twelve months and these September stats will see the first lot of testing with this slightly different product, drop off the radar so to speak. The very big drop which caught even (especially?) Defra by surprise occurred in the months to March / April, but from then on there has been an inexorable rise in new breakdowns. They are up 13 percent to August and 16 percent to September, which now records a drop on 2005 of 11.3 percent, compared with 27.5 to March.
But even these headline 'Confirmed New Incidence' figures tend to confuse, as the number of herds under bTb restriction "because of a Tb incident" (i.e a bTb breakdown as opposed to delayed test or delayed test results) is up on 2005, showing 4,797 in 2006 to September, compared with 4,785 in 2005. This is 5.31 percent of herds registered on Vetnet, compared with 5.21 percent in 2005.
And as two of your contributers have recorded 'new breakdowns' (not yet confirmed) during November, and the 'Lelystad effect' continues to fall off the testing radar, we predict the autumn figures going higher. More on Defra's September figures from Alistair Driver in Farmers Guardian:
The regional figures are a disgrace. The 'West' region now stretches from Cornwall to Shropshire and the county figures are as follows:
Glos. had 20 per cent of herds under restriction because of a bTb 'incident, in the period to September, Hereford / Worcs. 18 percent, Devon 17.8 per cent and Cornwall 15 percent. The counties of Avon and Wiltshire had 10 percent of their herds under restriction, and Somerset, Dorset and Shropshire 6 - 7 percent.
Defra's 'North' region recorded all three Staffordshire offices with up to 8 percent of herds affected and South and West Wales areas had between 10 - 13 percent of their cattle herds under restriction Jan - September. And even our Midlands Matthew is twitchy, with parts of the East showing a persistant and 'amplifying' (Defra speak for increasing) problem and 2 percent of its herds under restriction; 20 years there was a big fat zero. None at all, in fact only 86 herds across the whole of GB were recorded as being under restriction, and less that 700 cattle slaughtered in 7 or 8 'hotspots'.
So as the figures are definitely on the up, and the statistical shield behind which our new minister has slunk since March is getting thinner by the month, what will he do about tackling the disease 'in the round'? Or are we still on track for Defra's predicted 20 percent / per annum rise in incidence, if the maintenance reservoir in wildlife is not tackled?