Friday, June 29, 2007

More on 'Shambo'

We explored the ins and outs of the problems facing the Welsh Assembly when a hindu 'sacred' bullock tested positive for TB here

But time and TB tests move on, and as 'Shambo' the bullock awaits his fate in his straw 'shrine', "two more animals at the centre have also proved positive, and five others returning 'inconclusive' results."
So said a spokes person from the Welsh Assembly. But we are happy to draw your attention to an edit below:

Update Please see comment on posting below, where the Skanda Vale community have pointed out that the '2 more reactors and 5 inconclusives' referred to in the FG report are hypothetical at the moment, as without the slaughter and postmortem of Shambo, bTb has yet to be officially 'confirmed' on the premises. Thus the 'severe interpretation' of the early June test is, they point out, premature.

In the absence of postmortem confirmation of disease, the inference is that the Welsh Assembly has 'assumed' positive Tb in Shambo, thus involving 7 more animals, or a typo missed out a vital 'if' from the positive disease status in the news release.

Confrontation looks on the cards for newly appointed Welsh Assembly minister, Jane Davidson. Full story here


Anonymous said...

Your information is not factually accurate. On the retest results 8th June read on standard interpretation there were 3 inconclusives. WAG has indicated that where TB confirmed the results would be read at severe interpretation giving 2 reactors and 5 inconclusives. As there is currently no evidence of confirmed TB then there are only 3 inconclusives.Evidence of this can be obtained without slaughter using PCR and Elisa tests
These will be retested in August.Gamma interferon, Elispot, Elisa and PCR are available as is treatment.Why are these not used.
Lets put public health risk into perspective and deal with the issue in a systematic way. Skanda Vale is not a commercial farm, we have never asked for or received government subsidy, we are a public place of worship that celebrates the sanctity of life.The farming Community are rightly concerned about the crippling effect of bTB. The failure of the current policy, the subjective nature of the skin test and the intransigence of the WAG and DEFRA to focus resources adequately to find a solution.Killing is not a solution.

Matthew said...

We're very happy to post a correction to the article from which we linked.

Having been (heavily) involved for decades with the Tb skin testing regime, we agree with your information about the 'severe interpretation' and how / when it is applied.

Public health is the main driver for the tuberculin testing regime, and elimination of the disease. And it is also correct to say that as tuberculosis has, in many cases a very long incubation period, animals which test postive for exposure to it, may never actually go on to develop it or pose a problem.

Nevertheless, over time - sometimes short, sometimes longer - even if a lesion is walled up initially, cattle may break down with full blown disease, posing a threat to other cattle and to human beings.

From our personal experience the appearance at Skanda Vale of more inconclusives(which under severe interpretation would be termed reactors) rather than their resolution, indicates a wider or ongoing exposure to the disease than just the bullock.

Gamma interferon, we feel (with veterinary advice) is too blunt an instrument for widespread use in areas of endemic Tb in wildlife. Too many false positives, (exposure to other micobacteria) or animals which have had exposure to Tb and are carrying antibodies, and thus acquired a degree of resistance. All these will fail Gi.
We understand it is much more specific (successful) on badgers.

As you may have seen from other postings on the site, we too are pushing for the use of PCR, to locate environmental contamination. Slaughter of cattle
as a tool on its own, will not stem that source of reinfection.

Thanks for the clarification.

George said...

Unfortunately, none of the tests for TB is 100% accurate, currently the skin test is the best one that we have.
Treatment of cattle is against the law, but even in humans treatment, which involves three antibiotics for 6 months (all of which can have really unpleasant side effects), may not cure the disease.