A row between a member of the new TB Advisory Group, dairy farmer Bill Madders and the Badger Trust has erupted over the source of Mr.Madder's ongoing TB breakdown.
The Badger Trust, no doubt with irrefutable evidence to support their claim, assert that Mr. Madders’ 28 very dead dairy cows, were exposed to infection from the movement of “untested, TB infected cattle, into south Staffordshire, following FMD”.
Mr. Madders refuted the Trusts’ claims and said that his local SVS office were 99 – 100 percent certain that his cattle had been subject to infection from the local badger population. He also pointed out that his farm was surrounded by roads or arable land, and that his cattle had no contact with any neighbouring herds.
The fact that south Staffordshire had not been a major FMD area and was not subject to significant ‘re stocking’, seems to escaped our Trevor. As has the six years which have elapsed since any FMD restocks, time in which Mr. Madders’ cattle have presumably tested clear - several times. That neither he nor SVS have claimed any purchased cattle is also noteworthy, but let that pass.
Trevor Lawson of the Badger Trust said that local veterinary officers could not claim with any certainty to know the cause, as “they did not have enough familiarity with what goes on at farm level”.
They’re going to love that little gem aren’t they? Access to CTS records, printed off and produced for every TB test – individual cattle identification for Mr. Madder’s herd, which will now be approaching four 60 day short interval whole herd tests since the beginning of his breakdown at a routine test last autumn. So what is our Trevor saying? That CTS is wrong, and cattle moved onto this farm quietly and in the night, anonymously and with no one knowing? Wow, that’s a big statement. Libellous too I suspect. But clutching at straws non the less.
Of course SVS are sure by now of the cause. If no bought in cattle can be targetted, which in this case appears to be the case, and no cattle to cattle contact is possible, then it’s down to a 'non-bovine' source. And in Defra speak, that means badgers. The spoligotype from any lesions found in Mr. Madder’s dead cattle, will confirm the geographic origin of the strain responsible – and if SVS are saying they are 99 – 100 per cent sure it is badgers, then they know for certain cattle restocks, it ain’t.
We have heard since posting this story that the spoligotype isolated from lesions taken from reactor cattle on Mr. Madder's farm is Type 25. And according to the ferrets at VLA who know about these things, outbreaks in cattle mirror the spoligotype which is indigenous to the little furry stripey thing, co-habiting in a certain area. We listed the main types in our november posting:
And where do we find Type 25 mycobacterium bovis? Staffs / Derbys. Just where Mr. Madder's (now very dead) cattle lived - and where 79 percent of the cattle outbreaks feature this strain - which was originally isolated and mapped over the last 30 years - in badgers.
Ed's note: Most of this cattle / cattle clackety clack is coming from the recently published Warwick Uni.paper on incidence of Tb following FMD restocks. A small cohort study using skin testing data (skewed by FMD delays, and which Defra warned was not to relied on for statistical purposes)was added to cattle movement data - (and not much else) and shredded through a series of mathematical models to come up with - not a lot. We will post this one when we've number crunched it a bit more. But as usual, our Trevor has assumed that "Only 16 - 28 per cent of cattle are ever tested for TB". That is not what this lightweight piece said at all. In the study, that percentage were found to be dead before they could undertake a skin test. These were most likely 2 year beef animals, and as Andrew Proud said, it must be realised that MHS postmortem inspection is as much a part of TB surveillance as the skin test.
We find it very strange that dear old Defra refuse to consider PCR as its use has not been 'validated'; but has the use of mathematical / computer modelling to track infectious disease ever been 'validated'? And more important, is it an accurate reflection of its input data? Remember BSE / CJD?
The word 'validation' seems to us to be an excuse for doing nothing, any time soon.