Monday, December 09, 2013

George meets Eddy.

Newly appointed Minister of State for Agriculture, the Right Honourable George Eustice met an alpaca this week.

 In fact he met several, and also their owner who over the last few years has been brave enough to share the story of her losses of these animals to 'bovine' zoonotic Tuberculosis, and the disease itself, which has affected her so badly.

The Alpaca TB Support website describes the meeting with Dianne Summers, head of the support group at her farm last Friday:
The meeting was to discuss bTB as it affects alpacas, llamas (as well as their keepers and handlers) and to bring Mr Eustice up to date with the current situation. Mr Eustice was interested to find out about the Support Group’s work over the past five years and about the detailed factual data that Dianne has gathered from 41 members of the Support Group.

Mr Eustice said he was grateful for her input and level of knowledge and explained that he well understood the devastation that the disease causes. He asked about Dianne’s own herd breakdown and about her personal battle with the disease having been diagnosed with the same spoligotype as her herd in 2012.
We understand that Mr. Eustice was also informed of the privately funded PCR Proof of Concept Study - [link]  and its progress so far, as well as the results of other ante mortem tests presently used for camelids - some good but many not specific or sensitive enough to be used with confidence.

Disappointingly, the policy for camelids recently unveiled by AHVLA / Defra requests movement records,  tests and TB control, but as Farmers Guardian reports, this will all be on a voluntary basis. -[link]
Which means it is unlikely to happen.

Hiding behind the blackout curtain of their own statistics [-link] AHVLA have made it quite clear that despite the deaths of thousands of camelids, the paucity of the bovine skin test on these animals and their susceptibility to z Tuberculosis with its ramifications down the line their owners, handlers and vets,  TB control will not be under departmental statute..

One would have thought that the 400 alpacas slaughtered in a single outbreak - [link] might have shamed Defra's statistical bean counters into action. But their comfort blanket tables remain, stubbornly counting the single confirming microbial sample of any reported outbreak. Which last year numbered just 17.

However, this week, our new minister George Eustice met some alpacas,  and left with a bundle of facts, figures and some pretty gory post mortem pictures of what zoonotic tuberculosis does to camelids. He also met a victim of the inevitable overspill of this zoonosis into human beings.

And he met Eddy. 

More pictures and detail on the Minister's visit can be found on the Alpaca TB Support Group website - [link] .

We are hoping that after this visit,  Mr. Eustice will lift the blanket of secrecy emanating from his department, on the true level of zTuberculosis in camelids and on how it is dealt with.

That would be a Christmas present worth sharing.

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