Through their enquiries, the group have learnt that the 'official' camelid TB figures, produced occasionally by Defra and updated quarterly (although we note that this chart has been the same for six months ) refer only to samples submitted to VLA. So if an animal dies on farm, is postmortemed on farm, but is part of a larger or ongoing TB breakdown, then culture samples are not submitted. And thus it drops off the 'official' statistics radar.
Which would go some way to explaining why the Defra figures are (still) showing 68 confirmed TB casualties for 2009, with 120 samples submitted, while the members of the TB support group have recorded 144 deaths. All positively confirmed by veterinary post mortems.
Up to Dec 31st 2009 those in contact with the TB support group lost 144 alpacas/llamas [with] confirmed TB. This works out roughly 12 a month. From that 144 we had 12 skin test positives 7 of which were from one herd..... which works out to over 23 animals per month - and almost double the incidence of 2009.
In the first 4 months of 2010 From 1st Jan - 30th April 2010 members in contact with the TB support group have lost 94 alpacas.
Statistics for cattle are more robust, as BCMS and CTS are involved and individual animals are logged. But we understand that due to financial pressures, (and numbers?) as with camelids, samples consigned to VLA for TB strain cultures or 'spoligotyping' are limited to the first couple of an ongoing breakdown.
For over forty years, the results of cattle casualties and RTAs or badger removals, have been painstakingly logged and mapped by VLA and our posting gives some results of the blocks of GB countryside where an 'environmental' strain of TB is circulating between sentinel tested, slaughtered cattle and free ranging, endemically infected badgers - and available to any other mammal who happens to wander by. Including highly susceptible alpacas.
From a comment on the Alpaca blog, it would appear that although TB can be spread between infected imported herd members, only 6 herds could nail their outbreaks positively to this source. For the others TB had come from a wildlife source, whose name Defra are not keen to mention.