Sunday, April 28, 2013

The 'regional accents' of m.bovis.

It is somewhat unusual to find us agreeing with Defra on anything at all to do with 'bovine'  badger Tuberculosis. In fact we have been heard to say on more than one occasion, that badgers are not the problem, but Defra's attitude to the control of those infected with Tuberculosis, most certainly is.

So it is refreshing to agree with Professor Ian Boyd, Defra's Chief Scientist, on the regional patches of spoligotypes found in Great Britain. He explains:  

... when one drills down in to the details of this clonal complex within Britain one finds an interesting pattern. There are different forms of bTB in different areas. Put simply, if bTB could talk it would probably have regional accents. This implies, for example, that bTB from Somerset doesn’t mix much with bTB from Cornwall. Now, if you are in to bTB like I am, this is just fascinating.

Fascinating??? We could think of other adjectives - but let that pass. Professor Boyd continues:
It is also an encouraging signal that cattle movement controls to prevent the spread of bTB are working, as otherwise we would probably a lot more mingling of the bTB strains and an eventual blurring of regional distinctions. That there are still such thick ‘accents’ between regional variations suggests some success in containing them within their regions.
Without wanting to rain on the good Professor's parade, these 'regional variations' have existed for decades - and certainly long before Defra nailed our cattle to the floor. And we use Defra's maps to illustrate this. Nevertheless, the article is good and can be read in full, on this link.

Our more down to earth (and earlier?) view on these spoligotype groupings were covered in this 2006 post we looked again in 2008, and more recently in this 2012 posting.
And in 2007, Farmers Guardian also covered what Professor Boyd describes as the 'regional accents' of m.bovis.

For some time now, molecular geneticists have said that true cattle tuberculosis was eradicated by the country wide screens of the 1960s.

What we have now is 'badger adapted' tuberculosis feeding back up into sentinel tested cattle, and despite Defra's reluctance to publish anything other than the single confirming microbial sample, many hundreds of other mammals.

Professor Boyd finishes his piece with the following observation:

This leads me to an intriguing hypothesis; is SB0140 specifically adapted to survive and thrive in badgers?
You've got it.

But whaddya gonna do about it?

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