Monday, August 05, 2013

August update.

A couple of snippets have come in to us this last couple of days to which we'll link, and just paste tasters for readers to explore the stories for themselves. Meanwhile we are ploughing on through the extraordinarily cryptic Consultation document, looking for commitment to a policy which includes wildlife management.

Not that we need one from our Secretary of State, Owen Paterson MP, but from the lackeys who have prepared the 117 page document. And probably prepared the previous versions as well.

But until that elusive beast 'vaccination' arrives and while Defra are still dreaming up ways to clobber cattle farmers, Professor Glyn Hewinson, speaking at an AHVLA briefing last week warned that Defra's estimate of a time line for an oral BCG vaccine for badgers was 'optimistic'.

Reported by Wales on line, Prof. Hewinson pointed out that:
“The draft TB eradication strategy that’s just been released by Defra suggests a timeline of 2019 for the first availability of an oral vaccine, but that is the most optimistic timeline and of course it’s still at the research stage, and if we knew exactly how long it would take then it wouldn’t be research.”
He also said that AHVLA had no idea of the effect BCG orally baited badgers would have on cattle TB, which is why AHVLA wanted more farmers to sign up.
“One of the big evidence gaps we have in TB control is how vaccinating badgers will affect TB in cattle,” he said. “One of the things we’re very keen on is to encourage people to make use of Defra’s funding pool for training lay vaccinators to go out and vaccinate badgers so that we can generate data to see what effect vaccinating badgers might have on cattle TB.”
It would be churlish to point out that vaccinating un-prescreened badgers which are already infected with zoonotic tuberculosis, is perhaps not the brightest of ideas. And that not all wild badgers are as keen to participate in this exercise as AHVLA's newly trained vaccinators.

And then there's the problem of chucking shed loads of baited peanuts around in areas where cattle can access them and become reactors to their next skin test. But we'll mention these problems anyway.

 Meanwhile from TBfree England (the original site - not the young pretender) a letter from a Goucestershire vet, Rob Darvill. Mr Darvill writes passionately about how his training was not to deliver death sentences to his client's cattle, while offering them platitudes, but no solution to a problem not of their own making:
"In the area where I practice in Gloucestershire, 78 per cent of the cattle farmers I work with have had a TB breakdown in the past two years. It’s a disease you always hope you’re never going to find in a herd. When you start getting large numbers of reactors you start crossing your fingers and hoping that the next cow, and the next one, will be clear because you’re watching a disaster unfold in front of you and you are powerless to stop it or provide any hope or comfort.

"You’re essentially watching yourself destroy the business of someone who, until that point, you’ve been helping, by treating and curing their animals so they can thrive.

Nothing can prepare you for that."
Click this link for the full text of Mr. Darvill's letter, which describes the problems most SW cattle vets have. The content will also be achingly familiar to any cattle farmer unlucky enough to be farming in a zoonotic TB hotspot.

And finally, a letter in reply to William Langley's article in the Sunday Telegraph (28/07/2013) which we discussed in this posting:

The letter is from Robin Don, of Norfolk who says " Culling badgers is the only way to stop TB ".
SIR – I have great sympathy with Angela Sargent, whose situation as a dairy farmer in Derbyshire is intolerable (report, July 28). Tuberculosis (TB) causes terrible suffering to badgers.

In the worst affected areas, between 50 and 90 per cent of the population is infected. All will eventually die of TB. This cannot be right.

If Derbyshire County Council really cares about its badgers, it will aim to achieve a TB-free badger population. Informed veterinary opinion has established that this will never be achieved by vaccination and certainly not with the BCG vaccine, which has proved its ineffectiveness so conclusively that it is no longer used for humans.

Culling of infected setts to achieve a balanced population is the only sensible solution. Of course this must be done in as humane a way as possible. Vaccination only exacerbates the problem.

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