Sunday, June 07, 2009

Spillover - terrier

We have received the following report from a Midlands vet, telling the salutary tale of a terrier - doing what terriers do - and paying the ultimate price.
In March a client came in with a working terrier which had obviously been in the wars. It had a bitten muzzle etc. The owner said it had discovered a moribund badger, killed it and eaten part of it.
Our correspondent patched the terrier up, administered appropriate aftercare and warned the owner to be on the lookout for any signs of TB, which was an obvious danger given the state of this close-to-death badger. Last week, the terrier was again referred:
The dog, although still eating, had lost weight, looked worried / distressed and had shallow breathing. The dog was euthanased, and at PM there were multiple lesions in the liver, the intestines and in the pleura of the lungs there were handfuls of 'millet'.
VLA are culturing samples from the dog (for bTB), but in a further twist to this 'environmental encounter', the terrier had been recuperating with a family who have a young child in the household.

At the pace of a sloth on Valium, and still in utter denial about the risk of this increasing 'environmental contamination' to which pets and their owners are being exposed, Defra, as ever, following their master's voice, seemed reluctant to alert the relevant Communicable Health authorities to the disease risk to this family, and in particular, the child, until they received culture results back from VLA.

Our latest cattle samples have taken over six months; however our correspondent was more forceful, commenting:
"I had to persuade Defra that they should contact the Health authorities now and not wait until culture results are back".


Anonymous said...

What other animals have fed on this and similar carcasses?

Matthew said...

Anon 1.04
One would assume that after the terrier finished off this extremely sick badger, its remains would have disposed of by the terrier's owner.

As to what is at risk from eating carcasses of animals which have expired, and which had endemic tuberculosis, then PQs suggest it is a primary transmission route for badgers to contract and keep the disease going. (They eat carcasses of dead badgers and any deer which succomb as spillover hosts)

It is possible that foxes eating contaminated carcasses would be affected too, but it is our understanding that generalised TB finishes them off quite quickly and the disease is not sustained within the population.