In response to the increasing number of alpaca herds (puntas) affected by the inappropriately mis-named 'bovine' TB, the BAS (British Alpaca Society) is hosting a series of meetings during January and February 2010, entitled 'TB Awareness'.
These will be presented by BVCS vet Gina Bromage, M.A.,VetM.B.,D.V.M.,M.R.C.V.S , with an introduction from the chairman of the BAS, Mike Birch.
The meetings are open to all and there is no pre-booking or entry fee. Veterinary attendees would be most welcome, as would cattle farmers and anyone else interested in bTB transmission.
Venue are across the country, with details here.
The owners of alpacas in the two cases which we linked to in this post, have between them lost over 40 animals to confirmed bTb. A handful of other herds can account for well over 100 animals, all clinically confirmed during 2009, but not necessarily voluntarily slaughtered as the result of either a skin or blood test and thus accompanied by 'compensation'. Neither have all these TB casualties been culture sampled, as once bTB is 'confirmed' in a herd, to keep lobbing samples to VLA for confirmation of visible disease is deemed a waste of resources. They have been postmortemed by vets, whose findings should have been passed up the line to AHOs.
Thus the figure quoted on the Defra website of '38' alpacas and '2' llamas 'screened' during the period January - September 2009, with '18' infected alpacas and '0' infected llamas proving positive for bTB, would seem to us to be a considerable underestimate - or as it's Christmas and we are being generous, both vets and local AHO offices ane dragging their collective heels over reporting their area bTB positive camelid findings.
Defra's explanatory notes, once one has located the obligatory magnifying glass with which to read them, point out that the collated data, only refers to 'notified suspect and clinical postmortem' cases of bTB during the reporting period, thus passing the buck back to the aforementioned vets and AHOs..
At the moment we'll give Defra's statisticians the benefit of the doubt and hope 'pending' cases will catch up; but we sincerely hope that this published data is not case of managing statistics, rather than managing the problem.
(Update: Thanks to eagle eyed blog watchers for amendments to screened figures. Even with a magnifying glass - we got the lines muddled. The post is now correct to Defra's miniscule data - if not to dead alpacas. )