... has been issued by Defra - don't they just love those fat green booklets? - printed on recycled paper of course. This one brings all the small pamphlets together in one 44 page A 4 issue entitled "Dealing with Tb in your Herd" - or something like that. Available in pdf format:
(Sorry folks, just checked this direct link, and it won't flag up this file. Go to Defra home page, type ' gamma-interferon' into the search box, and the file is near the bottom of first page of publication options. Best we can do until they get their 'link fairy' operative.)
Meanwhile as a top up to our posting ;
on the proposed introduction of gamma interferon, the Veterinary Times reports unamimous welcome from industry spokesman on its introduction - but with reservations as to specifics.
Its use will mainly be limited to new outbreaks in 3 or 4 year testing parishes, on skin test- negative animals, and with that we would agree. As would Trevor Lawson of the Badger Trust, and under those circumstances, many veterinary organisations and farming groups.
The test as envisaged for herds in annual and 2 year parishes is of more concern. In those areas Defra say they plan to use it :
*On inconclusive reactors that fail to resove their first tuberculin re test.
* On tuberculin-test negative animals in severe TB incidents to inform decisions on whole or partial herd slaughter.
*On tuberculin test-negative animals in herds with persistant, confirmed infection that fail to resolve through repeated short-interval tuberculin tests and have taken the basic herd biosecurity precautions.
Those criteria could apply to most of our contributers. IR's are historically given two chances to pass the skin re-test, which will now be reduced to a single strike. And Matt 5 lost over 40 animals through a 4 year breakdown, of which only three proved to have culturable confirmed disease. A g-IFN test at the height of this outbreak would no doubt have enabled Defra's best to "de-populate" Matt's herd, but it would not have addressed the source.
BCVA president Andrew Biggs is quoted in the Vet Times article :
"We have to remember that the RBCT showed, if nothing else that badgers give Tb to cattle. If we don't address that, I don't see any future for closed herds that go down with TB, when cattle movements onto the farm or even nose-to-nose contact [with neighbouring herds] are not significant factors".
Meurig Raymond, deputy president of the NFU supported the announcement of the introduction of another diagnostic tool aid "as far it goes". But he said that it still did not get to the root of the problem:
"The increased use of the gamma-interferon blood test will make it easier to stamp out isolated outbreaks of disease away from the main hotspot areas, - but additional testing will be of little value to the thousands of farmers whose herds are constantly exposed to infection from wildlife as a result of the Government's refusal, so far, to deal with the disease in badgers ... ..... Until we get to grips with that, Tb will remain a scourge to cattle, badgers and farmers alike".
We confidently expect Matt 5 to receive his own copy of Defra's new booklet any time soon. Yup, after eighteen months of freedom, the routine test revealed one reactor and 4 Inconclusives.
So our Matt is under restriction again. And this is where pre movement testing is such a comfort blanket. Not. Matt has tested 15 animals this year - and sold them. He has also purchased ( for the first time in 13 years) pre movement tested pedigree bloodstock to establish a new herd of beef cattle. In Spetember the herd consigning the new cows and their calves, went under restriction, involving Matt in cattle tracing and retests, and now all 15 animals sold from Matt's farm this year may have to be traced and tested. Defra don't have too much faith in the preMT do they?
And neither of course, do we. All Matt's new ladies passed their post movement re-test by the way, and that is a far better indication of their disease status.
Matt's Reactor is a cheeky angus yearling which tested clear last year after her purchase as a 3 week old calf. The inconclusives are home bred incalf heifers, both beef and dairy. The source is - well we'll leave that for you to fill in, but I think Defra would describe it as "non-bovine".
More on the gamma interferon blood test on the Defra website: