Farmers Weekly reported last week on emerging new hotspots of Tb in areas where it had been unknown for years. ( That would be just like most of the contributers to this site, ten years ago then - ed.)
Sorry, no link to this, so we type it in full:
" Fears are growing that this spring might bring an explosion of bTb (in cattle) following last year's dry summer and changes to the skin test.
Devon farmer, Bryan Hill is certain that new hotspot areas are emerging across the region and will only get worse over coming months. "We have been Tb free for eight years but I expect it to come back this year following the dry summer."
With growing badger populations fighting over limited food resources, the weaker animals would have been more susceptible to disease, claimed Mr. Hill. They would have had to look for easier sources of food and water, bringing them into contact with cattle. "Tb takes seven to twelve months to show up on the skin test after exposure to infection, so I expect herds to start going down now".
Ben Bennett, DVO (Divisional veterinary Officer) with the State Veterinary Service agreed that Tb could increase this spring, as it had after previous dry summers. More cattle being tested before the intrduction of the new preMT rules on March 1st. could compound the rise, particularly if the (early) presence of of Tb had been missed last year with the change to Dutch tuberculin, which he fears maybe less accurate.
However, the new preMT rules were unlikely to have much impact on Tb in the absence of disease control in wildlife, said Mr. Bennett. "Cow-to-cow spread has not been a common occurance over the years. We are all aiming for a healthy population of cattle and wildlife but you cannot make inroads unless you deal with the disease on both sides".
One group of farmers in a new Tb hotspot is calling on all livestock farmers to write to their MPs demanding government action. Richard Turner, Neil Briggs and Alan and Susannah Hoskin's dairy herds near South Molton, Devon, all tested positive for Tb in mid January - for the first time ever.
A number of organic and pedigree herds, all have found the compensation to be inadequate; a particular problem for the Hoskins who have lost 32 of their 120 cow herd. A closed herd for the last seven years, the Hoskins' vet hailed their farm the 'most biosecure of any in his practise'.
"This is the biggest reaction we've ever seen and the only way it could have entered the herd was via a wildlife vector" said Alan Jacques from the Market Veterinary Centre, South Molton. "TB is a growing problem - and with the government just ignoring the reservoir of infection (in badgers) it is very difficult to see how we are going to to get it under control".