Thursday, February 14, 2008

BTEC in Australia - pest destruction Oz style

Some countries around the world have wildlife reservoirs of bTb - but how they deal with them, is very much dependent on their government's attitude to agriculture, food production and / or exports and of course public health.

Much is made of the fact that GammaIFN was developed in Australia in the mid 1980's. The implication being that the blood test was used to eradicate Tb. Not so. Australia's Tb free trading status was attained using the just the intradermal skin test - and clearing out its wildlife reservoir of disease - ahead of the licensing of GammaIFN.

Known as the "BTEC" , or Brucelosis and Tuberculosis Eradication Campaign, the feral cattle and water buffalo thought to be maintaining disease amonst the country's herds were rounded up and destroyed. Radio transmitters were attached to the necks of what were known as 'Judas' cows, who were then set free to join up with a herd of wild cattle, marking their position.

We are assured that Richard (Lord) Attenborough was not tracking their movements - but we digress. The herds were rounded up with helicopters, then coralled and the marked cow, sent off again. And again. And again, until all the feral cattle in the area were rounded up. About 13,000 went to the meat factories in 1986. And in the absense of a wildlife resrvoir, and using just the skin test, Australia became officially bTb free. A message from Oz tells us

" After we caught all we could the paddocks were shot out from the air without fear or favour. Some stud Brahman cattle got into the wrong paddock & were shot as well .... there were no exceptions.
It worked"

With 13,000 wild buffalo and feral scrub cattle rounded up with helicopters for slaughter, this was pest destruction on a big scale.


Anonymous said...

Regarding the blood test which is being used with increasing frequency - we were told by a Defra official that the earlier the blood sample is taken in the day the more likely it is to fail the test because the samples are all collected and sent to the laboratory at the end of the day. In other words the greater the interval between sampling and laboratory treatment the greater the risk of failure. If true, this adds yet another dimension to the gruesome lottery that presently masquerades as cattle farming.

Matthew said...

Anon. 12.12

With thanks.
We are putting together a posting on gamma, with all the info we can find. Matt

Anonymous said...

You could also look at the New Zealand example of TB CONTROL. The single bovine tuberculin caudal fold (tail) test successfully eradicated TB from all cattle herds where there was no feral animal (possum) source of infection. Controlling (killing) possums has done the rest. North Isalnd is TB free and country likely to go for eradication when plan is next reviewed as this gives an end point for spending on TB control. Some difference to UK!!

Matthew said...

Anon 7.38
"an end point for spending on TB control". We should be so lucky!

In GB, we're quite likely to see a disease levy, which, when Tb is brought under control, may make Defra a profit.

At the moment it's a growth industry with far to many on the band wagon.