Monday, February 18, 2013

Vaccines - not new.

There has been much twittering about vaccines and TB recently, as if it were something quite new.

After a consultation which ended in January, the EFRA committee are discussing it next week. On February 26th they will interview the European Commission and on the following day, members of the veterinary associations and the VMD (Veterinary Medicines Directorate) which is the body in charge of licensing.

When talking to the VMD it is hoped that the Honourable members have familiarised themselves with the various levels of license on offer. In particular that awarded to badger BCG which holds a LMA (Limited Marketing Authority) license, in that while it does no harm to pre screened badgers, no data on efficacy was presented.

 BCG was developed over 100 years ago and at that time was also used sporadically on cattle. We are grateful for a copy of a Holstein magazine tracking the development of this dairy breed in the United States. A passage from the 1964 issue which describes the use of BCG in cattle, starts with the description of a sale in 1917 of a very prestigious herd and a bull called King of The Pontiacs. The daughters of this bull sold well, averaging $1,240 but the twelve year old bull was lame with a baffling foot problem.
 However a couple of days before the sale he was photographed serving a cow, and presented for sale with the following information.

 "That he had never been tuberculin tested, but as a young bull he and few heifers had been vaccinated against tuberculosis 'as an experiment,"
The owner, Ward Stevens said of the bull to the assembled crowd:
"If he has tuberculosis, I don't want to know it and I don't believe that you want to know it either."
Such was the convincing and straightforward manner in which the bull's owner presented him, that the old bull sold for $10,500, and later changed hands for $15,000. As a young bull, he would have been vaccinated around 1911.

 BCG for cattle was not pursued as it had little effect, and worldwide it was felt that test and slaughter was the safer route to protect human health. In many countries that method has completely cleared herds of bTB.

Of course the exception to this success, being where a wildlife reservoir is left to upspill, in which case Defra, check your progress 1986 - 2012 in this posting, and hang your heads in shame.

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