Saturday, March 11, 2017

Going to the dogs?

This week has seen another wake up call for the Ministry overseeing - or not - the eradication of zoonotic Tuberculosis, a Grade 3 pathogen affecting any mammal, from Great Britain. However, while Defra, APHA or whatever they call themselves today, continue to ignore the difference between a 'maintenance reservoir' of disease (badgers) and its spill over (other mammals), dead reactor cattle may build up, but the level of so called 'environmental' infection also increases.

 We have mentioned many times the under reporting of zTB in alpacas, and our last posting - [link] seems to have woken up the British Alpaca Society, if not non-members of that particular clan.

 This week the press has jumped on dogs as a 'carrier'. A pack of hounds belonging to the Kimblewick Hunt, and housed near Ayslebury - [link] have been badly infected with the disease, and as usual, media with large axes to grind are having a field day.
Leading the pack, is the Ecologist - [link] with a second swipe in that paper from the League Against Cruel Sports LACS - [link] written by Jordi Casamitjana who is Head of Policy and Research. Inevitably, the League  has decided that zTB is nothing to do with badgers at all, and it is hounds which are riddled with the disease, spreading it across our green and pleasant land.

 The fact that the author is anti hunting has nothing to do with the slant of piece of course. And musing quietly here, if dogs (which, unlike cats, are pretty resilient to zTB) are to be put under the spotlight, what about footpaths, and dog walkers, often with multiple charges and some operating a business 'exercising' packs?

The story was apparently started by a group calling themselves Hounds Off - [link] and this piece is informative rather than over sensationalist. But most media outlets carry the paragraph below which we read with a degree of irony:
“The implications of this outbreak are huge. We already know that restricting the movement of animals in the countryside is the only effective way of controlling bTB .... []
Yup. We restrict cattle. Nail 'em to the floor, and shoot anything that has a sniff of mycobacterium bovis, while offering the maintenance reservoir of this disease the right to roam. Very sensible.

 But we digress... This is a library picture from the Kimblewick hunt's website, on a happier occasion.

Meanwhile we too are interested in just how 25 - 40 hounds, depending on which website you look at, have contracted zTB. All at the same time. So we looked up the rules on 'passive surveillance' of the disease on the APHA website - [link] And it seems that any suspect lesions in fallen stock ending up in knackers' yards or hunt kennels must be notified to APHA - just as in abattoirs.

We also learned that only meat on the bone (flesh) from under thirty month old cattle should be fed to hounds, and any other bits of dubious provenance are stained and incinerated, with records kept of tag numbers, kg of waste and even ash from the incineration process.

So if the source of this sad outbreak, does turn out to be a break down in the fallen stock recovery, rather than any other source which can be established, the rules and regulations are already in place.

 If however, the source remains unclear, then a moribund badger riddled with zTB has been the downfall of more than one canine investigator. - [link]

And then there was this case - [link] of an severely infected mum, her daughter and a euthanized dog. The dog and the adult both having been confirmed with the same spoligotype of zTB as is found 'locally'.

What is becoming more apparent with every passing year of prevarication by Defra / APHA on this subject, is that through their animals, zoonotic Tuberculosis is now affecting different groups of people. And they may not be as accepting, compliant or pragmatic about their losses and restrictions as cattle farmers appear to be.

 Edit: If more information comes to light on the case of the hounds in Aylesbury, we will report in due course.

No comments: