Thursday, March 14, 2013

TB free Germany and Switzerland ...

,... are no more, thanks to wildlife reservoirs which have fed the disease back up into cattle herds which have been TB free ( in the case of Switzerland) for around 50 years. We'll post the direct links to the reports in their respective countries and in their own language. As our co-editor so helpfully pointed out, Google Chrome has an instant translator.

 The stories are similar. In Switzerland, for the first time in 50 years, in the canton of Fribourg a case of bovine tuberculosis has been found.
"The authorities have imposed over the entire affected herd a lock and a milk delivery block."
The suspect cow was found at slaughter in early March. The piece explains that bTB may be transmitted to human beings, either by contaminated products or direct contact with an infected animal. As the products made from milk consigned by this farm were heat treated (pasteurised) before manufacture, the Federal Office of Public Health deemed them safe. The article continues:
" In adult cattle, the incubation time of the disease may take several months. Source of infection of bovine tuberculosis may be either other livestock or humans. The Swiss livestock was since the 60s free of tuberculosis. The monitoring program is based on the inspections in slaughterhouses. In the neighboring countries - France, Germany and Austria - will become increasingly cases of bovine tuberculosis registered in domestic and wild herds, especially in deer and badgers."
So our interest in this case will be exactly what measures the Swiss authorities take to protect their cattle herds from such wild vectors?

Another piece in Die Welt covers a widespread emerging problem with bTB in Germany.

  The strap line to the AP picture is this:
The Allgäu is one of the largest milk producers in Germany. But just the Allgäu mountain pastures where the animals graze, could become his undoing.
We know the feeling. The article explains that since 1997, Germany has been bTB free.
Actually Germany is officially in 1997 as free of bovine tuberculosis (TB). In Allgäu is the serious infectious disease [ bTB] that is transmissible to humans, but now resurfaced. More than 400 cattle had already been killed. It has the worst hit Oberallgäu. In the tourist area near the alps about 90,000 cattle are kept. Here veterinarians discovered 354 previously infected animals.
So, the cattle go out into the alpine pastures during the summer - and come back with bTB? The article leans towards that conclusion:
As a possible source of infection in cattle is deer - the cattle could have captured the pathogens in the summer on a mountain pasture. In order to prevent an epidemic, to the screening of herds now be extended to the whole of Bavaria. On farms in the Württemberg Ravensburg cases of TB were detected. "On four different farms were eleven and infected animals have already been culled," said a spokeswoman for the district office. The animals were last summer was on Bavarian Alps.
So Germany wants Bavaria-wide tests and a proposal from the Oberallgäuer State Office for Health and Food Safety (LGL) provides that in the entire State of all cattle aged over 30 months are tested for TB. In the counties along the Alps, it should be all cattle aged over 12 months. Farms that have infected animals in the house remain closed at least eight weeks. Is unblocked only after a follow-up confirmed that the remaining number is TB free.
"In other counties the Allgäu infectious disease has emerged. In Ostallgäu far 68 farms were examined. According to the district administration office in Marktoberdorf on three farms infected animals were discovered."
This disease hasn't bubbled up from cattle - this area of Switzerland has been trading TB free for 50 years and the Oberallgäuer region of Germany for sixteen years. So the UK's  'cattle to cattle' clack stumbles a tad. But of one thing of which you can be very sure, neither Switzerland nor Germany will put their trading status at risk as we are doing, by ignoring a developing wildlife reservoir of 'bovine' TB.

We watch developments with interest.....

 News just in from Germany on numbers, and their preferred TB testing regime (unused for 16 years).

The latest update on the Oberallgau region has identified 184 farms with animals testing positive to M.Caprae. 530 animals have been culled. 4 more holdings in Baden-Wuerttemberg  had positive tests on animals which had grazed the alpine slopes last summer.

And there has been a change in the testing regime for Germany:
"So far, when reading the single skin test every inconclusive/positive animal had a blood sample taken on the day of reading  and this sample was tested with the Bovigam test.
The blood samples were sent to different labs and , surprise, surprise, results in most cases differed. So after much complaining and threatening legal action Bovigam is no longer used and animals are now tested with the comparative skin test.

From what I have learnt Austria and Switzerland don't use Bovigam at all but they do skin tests / PCR which is their official strategy."
Mmmm. So after playing with GammaIFN, Germany has reverted to our comparative intradermal skin test. And at least a couple of countries are up to speed with PCR, (Polymerase Chain Reaction) as a diagnostic tool for bTB  even if our efforts languish in AHVLA's cupboard. 


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