The latest data is to 30/09/2005, (sorry - no link: from SVS Government Veterinary Journal Nov. 2006) and is the result of intradermal skin test and slaughter policy. In the European Union, 11 states are Officially Tb free and some now rely on slaughterhouse surveillance only, having been Tb free for several years. (Belgium, Finland, Germany, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Sweden)
Comments of note from the report regarding the Tb status of the other 14 states:
"Outlook for new member states is quite favourable, as Tb incidence has remained at very low levels for several years"
EU member states are listed with Tb incidence, and succinct comments re their status.
Of countries not obtaining officially Tb free status (99.9% herds 99.8% cattle) the following are noteworthy.
All countries including the new EU entrants are described as "Working towards OIE officially TB status", and either 'Stable', 'Declining' or 'No recent breakdowns". Except:
Ireland..... 96.90 % NHI 5.72 "Slowly decreasing"
Italy....... 90.90 % NHI 0.62 "Stable with wide regional variations in prevalence"
Spain....... 96.54 % NHI 1.11 "Declining"
UK (GB)..... 97.79% (at end of 2004) NHI 6.87 "Increasing steadily. Large regional variations in incidence".
UK (NI)..... 91.87% NHI 9.17 Gradual increase accelerated in 2001/2002. Followed by slow downturn; accelerated in 2005
The paper explains;
"By contrast, bovine Tb remains a significant animal health problem in the UK, Ireland, Spain, Italy and (to a lesser degree) Greece and Portugal. The reasons vary from country to country, but are generally linked to the presence of reservoirs of infection in wild or domestic mammals, extensive use of outlying, rented or common grazing, high stocking densities, incomplete testing coverage, lack of compliance with scheme requirements or a combination of these factors."
And specifically with regard to the UK:
"The comprehensive testing regimes that have eradicated TB in many European countries have failed to yield similar results in the British isles. In GB, the highly successful herd attestation scheme, launched in 1950 reduced the number and incidence of test reactor cattle from nearly 15,000(16.2 reactors per 10,000 cattle tests) to 569 (2.3 per 10,000 cattle tests) in 1982.
This remarkable progress came to a halt in the mid 1980's when the situation began to gradually worsen to a point where GB now sustains one of the highest incidences of TB in the EU".
",,, the Eurasian badger has been identified as the true maintenence host and principal wildlife reservoir of M.bovis in the British isles, where it remains a protected species.Nowadays, endemic M.bovis infection within badger populations in parts of the UK and Ireland is a major impediment to the eradication of bovine Tb......."
Earlier in this journal, Defra quote a headline figure for UK of " 93.6% of herds considered Tb free" which is substantially less than the 2004 figures listed in the EU tables above.
So, the EU recognises that in the Republic of Ireland, the incidence of Tb is "slowly decreasing", while across the Irish Sea, UK mainland Tb is seen as "increasing steadily". So what are European partners going to do about it?
Don't forget that in 'somebody's' drawer, already drafted, ready and waiting, is that EU veterinary certificate which we told you about here in September 2004.