Vets were alerted by chronic weight loss in 20 of 220 ewes and one ram. Postmortem findings in three of the six sheep were consistent with TB and M. bovis spoligotype 10, the predominant strain in local cattle herds and wildlife, was subsequently isolated. Lesions in these three sheep were ‘extensive’, a letter in the Veterinary Record reports.Farmers Guardian has the story which concerns a farm in Gloucestershire.
Defra's 'other species' TB statistics show 9 sheep samples under culture surveillance for 2009, and for 2005 a couple of positive samples. We told the tale of one of those positives here with Defra contacting farmers who had consigned sheep to Worcester market during late 2005, but who also farmed cattle. As the sheep sample proved positive, farmers who fell into that category were asked to test their cattle.
The tables published by Defra are by no means complete, up to date or accurate.
Although they show 144 positive samples at the time of publishing, that is the number of samples presented to VLA for culture. For camelids, if a herd is heavily infected, we understand that cash is not wasted sampling after the first couple are submitted. Thus the figures for alpaca deaths, personally communicated to vets leading the Alpacac TB Awareness roadshows, are in excess of 140, with some herds losing all their animals. Although veterinary postmortems confirm lesions which indicate TB, Defra has yet to acknowledge these deaths in their stats page - or anywhere else that we are aware of.
432 samples of species other than cattle were sent for culture surveillance during 2009, but many of the later results will not have been posted yet as these tables are compiled quarterly. Of the positives to date, 23 pigs, 26 cats and 68 alpaca make up the bulk of the culture-sample confirmed, 'bovine' TB casualties in 2009.
The veterinary press this week has published the story of TB in the Lleyn sheep, but added a cautionary wakeup call to all veterinary practitioners, advising not to confuse CLA with TB lesions in sheep:
Clinical signs and postmortem findings of TB in sheep may resemble lesions of visceral CLA. Failure to demonstrate serological or bacteriological evidence in cases of suspect CLA should trigger a suspicion of possible TB. Colleagues are reminded that suspect cases of TB detected in farm animals are notifiable to Animal Health. The small number of previous incidents of M bovis infection in sheep in Great Britain have been incidental findings at slaughter or at postmortem examination, but have not been associated with clinical signs. The VLA plans to provide more details of this incident in the near future.