Friday, December 20, 2013

One small step for George....

For several years now, we have been banging on -[link] about the way AHVLA presented their 'other species' zTB statistics. These tables consisted of the often single, microbial sample which confirmed m.bovis and only that. They did not include any previous or subsequent deaths either from 'bovine' tuberculosis, or slaughter of these animals in a government generated eradication process for this zoonotic disease.

And they were deliberately misleading as Dan Rogerson's Parliamentary Question of 2011 showed:

Dan Rogerson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many mammals other than cattle were identified with or slaughtered for bovine tuberculosis as a result of (a) microbial culture sample, (b) reports from local veterinary practitioners, (c) gross pathology examinations by veterinary investigation centres, (d) disclosing diagnostic tests including intradermal skin or blood assays and (e) reports from Meat Hygiene Service examinations at abattoirs in (i) 2006, (ii) 2007, (iii) 2008, (iv) 2009 and (v) 2010. [89799] 

 Mr Paice: The risk to non-bovine species from TB is assessed as generally low and the surveillance system is therefore proportionate to these risks.
This means figures are not collected or broken down by the specific categories the hon. Member has requested. Moreover, these scenarios are not mutually exclusive for a particular case and it would be difficult to allocate each case to one of these scenarios.
 In addition, TB in non-bovine species is not considered to have been “identified” until positive culture results are confirmed. Figures from 1997 on the annual number of total samples from non-bovine animals that are (a) processed by the AVHLA laboratories and (b) found positive for M. bovis infection, are broken down by species and are available on DEFRA's website at:
(These figures do not include the number of animals slaughtered from a herd where TB has been confirmed when M. bovis is not cultured from that animal.) 

So, like a broken record, because the 'figures are low', we are directed back to these damn duplicitous so-called statistics which only count the primary, single sample which a) confirms bTB and b) identifies the spoligotype.
We were even told the figures were not collected into the categories we had requested.

That was not true: and we thought misleading a minister was a hanging offence?

In AHVLA / Defra's previous comfort blanket highly selective statistics, no skin or blood test failures and subsequent slaughterings, no deaths with TB confirmed by pm and no knacker collections were counted. As we said in our posting of 2010, all these had disappeared. - [link]

But this week, after newly appointed minister, George Eustice MP met an alpaca called Eddy - [link] a chink in the glossy coat of this subterfuge appeared. And AHVLA's carcase counters having been dragged screaming back to their tinsel wrapped computers, stepped up to the plate and produced a completely different chart - [link] which not only includes that single confirming microbial sample but all as many deaths as they could pull out of that particular pigeonhole and herd / flock restrictions as well.

So they did have them after all, and they were available when Mr. Rogerson posed the Parliamentary question. Mmmmm.

Thus we see the original 'low' figure of 17 positive samples taken from South American camelids (alpacas and llamas) in 2012 and behind which AHVLA was crouching, was hiding almost 600 animals slaughtered on the altar of 'bovine' tuberculosis. A significant order of magnitude.
 Also jumping out of this chart is the number of new TB breakdowns in sheep and pig herds in 2012, with 6,189 ante mortem tests performed on sheep. Premises with  'other species' under restriction due to confirmed 'bovine' tuberculosis at the end of the year were into double figures for pigs and camelids.

So in just two weeks George Eustice has succeeded, where years of prolonged hand wringing by T-BAG, T-Beggars, TBEAG and many others, including ourselves,  have failed.

And zoonotic Tuberculosis is not a merely 'bovine' problem any more is it?

So well done the Alpaca TB Support Group - [link] and well done George.

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