In the South Hams, we also have some of the most spectacular countryside, but I have to inform Members that that countryside is in crisis. We are fast losing our sustainability as more and more dairy farms in particular go out of business because of the problems of bovine tuberculosis. Devon is, in fact, at the very heart of the bovine TB epidemic.
As a doctor, I have to tell Members that we cannot treat infected badgers by vaccination. Vaccination can only hope to prevent the disease in unaffected individuals.
I have been teaching junior doctors evidence-based medicine for 11 years, and I can say that one of the problems we face is that the randomised badger culling trial has for years wrongly been used to justify a policy of inaction.
Unless we do something about bovine TB, more and more of our farmers will go out of business. We need to recognise the effect on them and their families, and the very real distress bovine TB causes them.
With that we would agree. Vaccinating endemically infected badgers with a BCG type jab, and that only for a couple of nights and only 3 hours daylight per night trapping, is about as daft as it gets. On the other hand, is has been suggested that the effect of this extra stress on an infected (or infectious) badger, plus a top up BCG jab, may cause an anaphylactic type reaction, seen in alpacas, which could lead to death.
Other farmers have told us that they only signed up for the proposed Vaccine Deployment Project, in the hope of getting their land surveyed early, ahead of any targetted cull. If that was implied by Defra or Fera at the VDP launch meetings, it is a pretty shoddy way to deliver their next