They point out that although wild boar and deer are able to maintain a reservoir of the disease in spain, a serological survey found;
.. antibodies to M bovis MPB70 in badgers (23 per cent), foxes (3 per cent) and lynxes (4 per cent) from Doñana National Park (southern Spain), strongly suggesting that these animals had contact with M bovis.In the report, the authors describe the first case of clinical bovine TB in a free-living Spanish badger and discuss the implications of this observation for bovine TB control in Spanish wildlife and livestock. They describe how an adult female badger was
.. found moribund in Cabañeros National Park (central Spain) on December 14, 2003 and taken to the nearby Instituto de Investigacíon en Recursos Cinegéticos laboratory immediately. The badger died during transport.Subsequent postmortem found generalised TB pretty well everywhere in this animal, including lungs, trachea, kidneys liver and lymph nodes. It weighed just 3.5 kg.
The authors point out that although this is the first report of clinical bovine TB in a badger from Spain, and also the first report of bovine TB in a badger in continental Europe in the past 40 years,
..this is not an isolated observation, since a second case was detected recently in the León province of north-western Spain. In that case, a badger captured on a dairy farm with a recent history of bovine TB was analysed at the veterinary faculty of the University of Léon, and a positive M bovis culture was obtained from a pooled LN sample. Molecular typing revealed the same strain as in cattle (F. García-Marín)The conclusion of the report points out that:
.. the badger, which is considered to be a reservoir host at other latitudes, may become infected in an area where bovine TB is highly prevalent in ungulates (Vicente and others 2006). The pattern of lesions was similar to that found in Great Britain (Gavier-Widen and others 2001), which is consistent with this badger being an excretor of mycobacteria and potential disseminator of the disease.They also say that the increase in numbers of badgers observed in certain parts of Spain, particularly the Aragon region from 1992 to 2006 (R. Sobrino, P. Acevedo, M. A. Escudero, J. Marco, C. Gortázar, unpublished observations), could mean an increased disease risk. Thus, more epidemiological research is needed, and active and passive surveillance of badgers and other wildlife TB reservoirs, mainly wild ungulates, is advisable."
And also from Spain comes the sorry tale of bTB, an alpaca herd and its owners, now receiving treatment themselves, for tuberculosis. They have sent us their story:
I am concerned that our story from here, Spain, might well make people say “That’s in Spain, not here in the UK” [But] to you and me it is the same. It’s just that the labs etc here have taken since April 2008 to diagnose our problem. So we have been given a long time, in total ignorance, to work out what is going on here and inadvertently MOVE animals. One of our clients has just lost a female who came from here.This breeder has lost in excess of 30 animals so far and has witnessed 16 PM’s and seen more or less the same lesions time after time. These are mainly in the lungs and respiratory system. One animal’s trachea was 60% lesions. "We also see it in the liver, but not in all cases." The owners say that the Spanish authorities intend to blood test their remaining alpacas and comment:
In my opinion, the ability to move alpacas anywhere within England is basically suicide for an emerging industry, and for other livestock owners’ and the wildlife.
I have first hand experience of what TB can do to a herd of alpacas. They seem to be extremely vulnerable to this disease and the ante-mortem tests used at the moment, do not detect infected camelids. Here in Spain, we need movement licenses for our alpacas. This no doubt this could have saved a lot of lives here, if the skin tests did not repeatedly throw up false negatives.
We have lost 3 animals in the last two weeks to TB. All had tested negative in October 2008 and June 2009, using the skin test. We have never had a positive test. At the moment I see no way forward until we have a reliable ante-mortem test for camelids. I look at my animals and think who’s next?
I wonder how long other livestock farmers in the UK are going to put up with the knowledge that alpacas need no tests before movement, no licenses and no records of movement. If I was them I would be extremely upset knowing that these animals may have the potential to move any disease around the country, thus putting their herds of cattle etc. in danger. Not forgetting that alpacas, as can other animals, probably pass their diseases onto wildlife! Continuing the cycle.The owners of this small alpaca herd in the Andalucia region of Spain are now considering a total herd cull of their remaining 20 animals, including 8 pregnant females. Their losses are around £120,000 so far, with the Spanish authorities offering around 300 euros per animal, but with offset disposal costs of 100 euro per carcass. (The remaining alpaca - the remnants of a once thriving business - are valued at approximately £145,000)
The spoligotype of this outbreak in SW Spain has not been found in the UK. It is SBO 295.
The owners of this herd point out that at present there is no [validated] antemortem test for TB in alpacas that allows breeders to 'get ahead' of the disease.
It can spread faster than testing can detect infected alpacas and decimate a herd rapidly. There is a need to spend money now or UK/ European [camelid] industry could collapse as more herds become infected & farmers are not allowed to trade (including mobile matings & ability to show) - cross infection between alpacas seems to be easy; infected animals can pass on the disease at communal hay racks!They point out that TB in livestock can & does infect people working [or in contact] with infected stock & that this disease is untreatable in alpacas. It is notifiable to authorities and is not a disease to 'bury' down in the back paddock.
Latest figures from Defra in the UK, indicate that almost half of the premises with camelids which they suspect through either deaths or tracings of having bTB problems, have 'refused entry'.
The Spanish alpaca breeders in our story, have been given a long course of prophylactic antibiotics, so they assume that the Spanish authorities are taking the issue of bTB very seriously indeed.