Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Under Defra's radar - but still dead.

We have written about Defra's extraordinary way of collating its ''other species' TB victims statistics many times now. This week, the body counters at Defra have produced another table of dead animals, but unlike their cattle statistics, these only show the single microbial sample which confirms Tuberculosis, for spoligotyping.

For sure, the outbreaks which are reported to AHVLA, do get followed up and hundreds of animals get slaughtered. But they do not get a look in on these stats. As we pointed out in 2010, in this post, they are the 'Disappeared'.

We thought this year, that just maybe, with the publication of a single outbreak of 'bovine' tuberculosis in which over 400 animals died, the Ostrich mentality of Defra's statisticians may be shamed into reality. But we were mistaken. Just 30 samples appear on their 3rd. quarter samples table. And we note that many trace herds are still 'tethered' to the index outbreak, and counted as one.

 This obfuscation is misleading and dangerous. And once again we are most grateful to the editors of the Alpaca TB support group for clearly presented facts about how this disease affects their animals, and where it is located.

So far this year, Defra's tables show that a positive Tuberculosis sample from an alpaca or llama has been identified in the counties of Carmarthanshire, Cheshire, Devon (3) Somerset, Staffordshire, Warickshire, West Midlands, West Sussex, Wiltshire and Worcestershire. But such is the urgency with with Defra have contained the known susceptibility, huge infectivity and onwards transmission of 'bovine' Tuberculosis from these delightful animals, that sales from these herds, may now involve several European countries or even 'TB free' Scotland..

In the interest of Royal relations, we are relieved for HRH that this alpaca was neither coughing  nor spitting during their face to face encounter.

But on the horizon, is a better test for camelids than the 'bovine' skin test, which has proved to be  rubbish on alpacas. And we welcome the imminent publication of the full report, following the Alpaca TB Support Group's privately funded study into cutting edge bTB diagnostics using PCR. The interim is looking promising.

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