Bovine TB is increasing at an alarming rate.
In the 1960s, farming in England was experiencing a serious outbreak of Bovine TB but through careful cattle management, strict biosecurity and stringent animal testing, the proportion of cattle reacting to the TB tests reduced by a factor of four in just five years. For the next 20 years, bTB in cattle was brought under control and kept in check with very few cattle suffering an infection. During the 1980s, following a marked relaxation of cattle testing and movement controls, the situation began to change for the worse.
Bovine TB was again on the increase and to make matters worse the arrival of 2001 brought with it the worst outbreak of foot and mouth the country had ever seen. With over 6 million animals slaughtered, farmers were forced to restock with cattle, most of which came from abroad.
Rules set by DEFRA for restocking (70):
- Cleansing and Disinfection
- DECC Inspection
- Periodic testing for FMD
Unfortunately, there was no requirement for bovine TB testing on restocked cattle, a mistake that undoubtedly added hugely to the resurgence in bovine TB cases.
The number of cattle with bTB in the UK is actually falling year on year. Figures presented to Parliament in October 2012 (Parliamentary briefing paper - Science & Environment CLICK HERE) showed that the toll the disease is taking on farms has declined steadily over the last five years, without the removal of any badgers. Control measures have been increasingly effective, and new incidences in herds have fallen by 39% since 2008, from 5,007 to 3,018; while the number of individual cattle slaughtered has decreased by an extraordinary 44% – from 39,015 to 21,512 – over the same period. Nevertheless, figures released by Defra in March 2013 show an increase in bTB or do they?
Despite all the commotion about a recent rise in bTB in England this year, only 270 new incidents were reported in herds across the country in the month of March 2013. If we look at the history of the disease there are fluctuations so that number isn’t surprising. The level of infection won’t stay the same every year, especially when there is a significant increase in testing, as occurred in 2012 when 11,146 more tests were carried out than in 2011. An increase in bTB cattle numbers is inevitable. The bTB skin test is simply not good enough, and infected cattle continue to live along side and infect from within the herd. Intensive farming makes the condition right for bTB to spread easily. The problem of bTB lies mainly within intensive farming.
The M. bovis bacterium, which is the causative agent of the disease, can remain latent and undetected for many years; just recently, a cow from a closed herd was found to be riddled with bTB at the time of slaughter, and had clearly been infected for a long time. A routine skin test on the animal had not identified the infection in the previous five years so she had continued to infect others throughout that time (13).
In Switzerland, the first outbreak in 40 years saw the entire herd slaughtered. It was shown that many of the cattle had been infected with bTB for several years showing that cattle had been infected yet undetected (46). In Ireland, recent research published in 2012 showed that cattle outbreaks on neighbouring farms were caused by strains that were not identical, clearly showing that badgers were not the cause (34).
There are 8.5m cattle in the UK and less than 0.5% of them have bTB.
When cattle test positive for bTB they become the property of the government, and the farmer is paid their market value. He can re-stock his herd with new cattle, which will subsequently be infected by others that have not yet tested positive. About a third of reactive cattle are sold for human consumption both here and overseas (we export cows’ feet to South Africa and tracheas to Japan, for example).The industry is worth some £2 billion per year and it isn’t the farmer who makes a loss but the taxpayer, to the tune of £20 million every year.
To see the truth as published by DEFRA in July 2013 Click here
To see England’s draft strategy for achieving OBT "Officially Bovine Tuberculosis-Free “ click here
1. Bovine TB Time Line. Bovine TB Overview and Timeline
3. Estimates of badger population sizes in the West Gloucestershire and West Somerset pilot areas. A report to Natural England - 22 February 2013. http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20130822084033/
4. Estimating the risk of cattle exposure to tuberculosis posed by wild deer relative to badgers in England and Wales. DOCUMENT HERE
5.Statement from the European Commission regarding an article in the Mail On Sunday on 21 October. There is no EU financial support provided for the culling of badgers.http://ec.europa.eu/unitedkingdom/press/press_releases/2012/pr1245_en.htm http://ec.europa.eu/unitedkingdom/press/press_releases/2012/pr1245_en.html
The European Commission was disappointed to see an article by Brian May in the Mail on Sunday on 21 October which quotes Georg Haeusler, chief adviser to the European Commissioner for Agriculture. Some of the quotes are out of context or inaccurate - and therefore misleading.
Vaccination of cattle against TB is forbidden under current EU rules agreed by all Member States, including the UK. This is because there is no effective test to tell the difference between vaccinated and infected animals, making it impossible to protect the food chain and identify which animals could be exported.
If such a test were to be developed and approved at EU and international levels – which would take time – the rules could be changed relatively quickly. But Mr Haeusler explained that this would be the responsibility of the Health Commissioner, who deals with vaccination issues, and who could also advise on the exact process and timing in this case.
The Commission provides substantial financial support to the approved UK bovine TB eradication programme. For 2012, EUR 31.2 million were allocated to implement a rapid eradication strategy. There is no EU financial support provided for the culling of badgers.
6.Parliamentary briefing paper - Science & Environment. www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/SN05873.pdf
7. The Cattle Book 2008 Descriptive statistics of cattle numbers in Great Britain on 1 June 2008: Density Maps. http://www.defra.gov.uk/publications/files/pb13572-cattlebook-2008-090804.pdf
8. European Commission Audit - audit was carried out in the UK from 5-16th September 2011. TB Eradication Programme. READ HERE
9. Vaccination reduces the risk of unvaccinated badger cubs testing tuberculosis positive.Vaccination reduces the risk of unvaccinated badger cubs testing tuberculosis positive
10. Conversation in the House of Lords where Lord Krebs and Lord Knight of Weymouth – Hansard. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201213/ldhansrd/text/121023-0001.htm
11. 'Bovine tuberculosis infection in wild mammals in the South-West region of England: A survey of prevalence and a semi-quantitative assessment of the relative risks to cattle'. READ HERE
12. Final report of an audit carried out in the United Kingdom from 5th-16th September 2011 In order to evaluate the operation of the Bovine Tuberculosis Eradication Programme. READ HERE
13. TB skin test questioned after false results. http://www.fwi.co.uk/articles/05/02/2013/137488/tb-skin-test-questioned-after-false-results.htm#.URD1fq2kidE
14. Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Bovine TB - Key conclusions from the meeting of scientific experts. Held at Defra on 4th April 2011. http://archive.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/farmanimal/diseases/atoz/tb/documents/bovinetb-scientificexperts-110404.pdf
15. Illegal in the US to feed deer and cattle together for risk of bovine Tb transfer. READ MORE
16. Scientist writes an open letter condemning the cull. http://www.guardian.co.uk/theobserver/2012/oct/14/letters-observer
17. Despite no badgers having yet being killed under official sanction in Northern Ireland, as Ms O'Neill has acknowledged, the annual herd incidence has almost halved, from nearly 10% in 2002 to just over 5% on 30 September 2011. http://www.theyworkforyou.com/ni/?id=2011-11-28.7.25
18. Cattle movements the most significant factor in spread of bovine TB.
19. Stress prevents immune systems from working. A 3rd more females (in buffalo adult females stressed out the yearling females) and links with human stats. http://www.krugerpark.co.za/krugerpark-times-2-21-buffalo-tb-21399.html
20. Bovine tuberculosis in Europe from the perspective of an officially tuberculosis free country: trade, surveillance and diagnostics. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21439740
21. Durham University Paper. READ HERE
22. Recording of Professor Atkins from Durham University http://ihrrblog.org/2013/02/14/bovine-tb-risk-in-britain-past-and-present/
23. Police don’t want to police this, too expensive. http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/environment/wildlife/article3706318.ece
24. Herd size is a known risk factor for bTB (Denny and Wilesmith 1999, Olea-Popelka and others 2004, Reilly and Courtenay 2007); accordingly, direct standardisation was used to adjust for varying herd size (Dohoo et al., 2003). (Abernethy et al., 2013)
25. Slaughter Detection and pre movement Testing in Oreland. http://www.ucd.ie/t4cms/biennial%20report%20200809%20bovine%20tuberculosis.pdf
26.Four Area Project. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3113914/
27. Where is this?
28 . History of bTB – Defra. http://archive.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/farmanimal/diseases/atoz/tb/abouttb/index.htm
29. HOUSE OF COMMONS. ORAL EVIDENCE TAKEN BEFORE THE ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE, BOVINE TB VACCINATION, TUESDAY 26 FEBRUARY 2013, BERNARD VAN GOETHEM, FRANCISCO REVIRIEGO, KOEN VAN DYCK AND JACQUELINE MINOR. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmselect/cmenvfru/uc981-ii/uc98101.htm
30. Incidents of M. bovis infection in non-bovine domestic animals & wild deer in GB confirmed by laboratory culture. http://archive.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/farmanimal/diseases/atoz/tb/documents/tb-otherspecies.pdf
31. Lord Krebs, who ran a ten-year review into whether culling could control bovine tuberculosis, said that the Government’s estimates had varied so wildly that under the previous target farmers would have been asked to shoot 144 per cent of the badgers in Gloucestershire. He said “To me what it says is that the practicality of killing 70 per cent is one question but the real question is how do they know what their starting number is?” http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/environment/wildlife/article3703610.ece
32. Professor Robbie McDonald, an author of the paper and now at the University of Exeter's Environment and Sustainability Institute, said: "This striking result in cubs shows a protective effect at the social group level and is important evidence that vaccination not only has a direct benefit to vaccinated badgers, but can also reduce the infectivity of TB within a badger social group that has been vaccinated."
33. World Health Organisation description of TB and how it is transmitted.
34. Neigbouring farms have different bTB.
35. End ban on hunting with dogs, urges Tory Environment Minister: Paterson makes his views clear on controversial subject.
36. In Wales the government have caged, trapped and vaccinated over 1,400 badgers. Evidence from a four year field study (9) shows that BCG vaccinations in badgers reduces the risk of infection to cubs. It is possible to vaccinate. It will not make matters worse and evidence to date suggest it has a positive effect. Myself and Brian May met with Christianne Glossop (Chief Vet of Wales) in London last month to discuss successes and failures of the vaccination program and how we may work with them on this project to improve and support it to its conclusion.
37. Defra graphs on bTB showing increase after foot and mouth http://www.defra.gov.uk/statistics/files/defra-stats-foodfarm-landuselivestock-tb-statsnotice-120403.pdf
38. Conservative Animal Welfare - Statement on bTB. http://www.conservativeanimalwelfare.co.uk/page/20/
40. Deep divisions in the badger cull. http://catbrainsite.wordpress.com/2013/03/25/deep-divisions-in-british-society-over-badger-cull/
41. ORAL VACCINE TELEGRAPH. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/wildlife/7996663/Oral-TB-vaccine-may-prevent-need-for-badger-cull.html
42. British cattle are moved annually; with over 13 million cattle movements. http://rpa.defra.gov.uk/rpa/index.nsf/UIMenu/C2268E828EFED0B280256FE300347A0C?Opendocument
43. Closely mirroring the historical rise in bTB cases is the rise in cattle movements, with 480,294 more cattle moved in 2010 than 2009 Cattle movements have more than quadrupled between 1999 (3,373,646) and 2010 (13,690,294) and have involved over 127million animals since 1998. http://rpa.defra.gov.uk/rpa/index.nsf/vContentByTaxonomy/BCMS**Statistics**2010%20Statistics**?OpenDocument
44. Oral vaccine Eamonn Gormley. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/wildlife/7996663/Oral-TB-vaccine-may-prevent-need-for-badger-cull.html
45. Details on Eamonn Gormley. http://www.ucd.ie/research/people/veterinarymedicine/dreamonngormley/
46. Swiss herd shown that BTB was endemic in herd and had been present for several years. http://worldradio.ch/wrs/news/wrsnews/cows-infected-with-bovine-tb-culled.shtml?35284
47. Byrne, A. W., Sleeman, D. P., O’Keeffe, J. & John, D., (2012a). The Ecology of the European Badger (Meles meles) in Ireland, a review. Biology and Environment: Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, 112B(1), pp. 105-132. http://www.academia.edu/671427/The_Ecology_of_the_European_badger_Meles_meles_in_Ireland_-_a_review
48. Man shot while hunting rabbits . Fell on his gun SHROPSHIRE. http://news.sky.com/story/1075232/rabbit-hunter-shot-dead-in-tragic-accident
49. Byrne, A. W. et al., (2012b). Impact of culling on relative abundance of the European badger (Meles meles) in Ireland. European Journal of Wildlife Research, pp. DOI 10.1007/s10344-012-0643-1.
50. More, S. J., (2005). Towards eradication of Bovine Tuberculosis in Ireland A critical review of progress, Dublin: Centre for Veterinary Epidemiology and Risk Analysis.
51. Griffin, J. M. et al., (2005). The impact of badger removal on the control of tuberculosis in cattle herds in Ireland. Preventive Veterinary Medicine, Volume 67, pp. 237-266.
52. Máirtín, D. Ó. et al., (1998). The effect of a badger removal programme on the incidence of tuberculosis in an Irish cattle population. Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 34(1-6), pp. 47-56.
53. Sleeman, D.P., Davenport, J., More, S.J., Clegg, T.A., Collins, J.D., Martin, S.W., Williams, D.H., Griffin, J.M. and O’Boyle, I. (2009c). How many Eurasian Badgers (Meles meles) are there in the Republic of Ireland? European Journal of Wildlife Research 55, 333-44.
54. Eves, J.A., (1999). Impact of badger removal on bovine tuberculosis in east county Offaly. Irish Veterinary Journal 52, 199–203.
55. Eves, J.A., (1993). The East Offaly Badger Research project: an interim report. The Badger Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin (1993), pp. 166–173
56. Cheeseman, C. L., Jones, G. W., Gallagher, J. & Mallinson, P. J. (1981). The population structure, density and prevalence of tuberculosis (Mycobacterium bovis) in badgers (Meles meles) from four areas in south-west England. J. Appl. Ecol. 18, 795–804.
57. Cheeseman, C. L., Mallinson, P. J., Ryan, J. & Wilesmith, J. W. (1993). Recolonisation by badgers in Gloucestershire. In The badger (ed. T. J. Hayden), pp. 78–93. Dublin, Ireland: Royal Irish Academy.
58. Tuyttens, F. A. M., Delahay, R. J., Macdonald, D. W., Cheeseman, C. L., Long, B. & Donnelly, C. A. (2000a). Spatial perturbation caused by a badger (Meles meles) culling operation: implications for the function of territoriality and the control of bovine tuberculosis Mycobacterium bovis. J. Anim. Ecol. 69, 815–828.
59. Tuyttens, F. A. M., Macdonald, D. W., Rogers, L. M., Cheeseman, C. L. & Roddam, A. W. (2000b). Comparative study on the consequences of culling badgers (Meles meles) on biometrics, population dynamics and movement. J. Anim. Ecol. 69, 567–580.
60. Macdonald, D. W., Riordan, P. & Mathews, F. (2006). Biological hurdles to the control of TB in cattle: a test of two hypotheses concerning wildlife to explain the failure of control. Biol. Conserv. 131, 268–286.
61. O'Corry Crowe, G., Hammond, R., Eves, J. & Hayden, T. J., (1996). The Effect of Reduction in Badger Density on the Spatial Organisation and Activity of Badgers (Meles meles) in Relation to Farms in Central Ireland. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy , 96(3), pp. 147-158.
62. Bourne, F. J. et al., (2007). TB policy and the ISG's findings. Veterinary Record , 161(18), pp. 633-635.
63. Donnelly, C.A., Woodroffe, R., Cox, D.R., Bourne, J., Gettinby, G., Le Fevre, A.M., Mclnerney, J.P., Morrison, W.I., (2003). Impact of localized badger culling on tuberculosis incidence in British cattle. Nature 426, 834– 837.
64. Woodroffe, R. et al., (2006). Effects of Culling on Badger Meles meles Spatial Organization: Implications for the Control of Bovine Tuberculosis. Journal of Applied Ecology, 43(1), pp. 1-10.
65. Sleeman, D. P. et al., (2009a). The effectiveness of barriers to badger (Meles meles) immigration in the Irish Four Area project. European Journal of Wildlife Research, 55(3), pp. 267-278.
66. Roper, T. J., (2010). Badger. 1st ed. London : Harper Collins.
67. Byrne, A. W. et al., (2012c). Population Estimation and Trappability of the European Badger (Meles meles) Implications for Tuberculosis Management. Plos One, 7(12), pp. 1-11.
68. Munoz–Igualada J, Shivik JA, Domınguez FG, Lara J, Gonzalez LM (2008). Evaluation of cage–traps and cable restraint devices to capture red foxes in Spain. J Wildl Manage 72: 830–836.
69. O’Flaherty, J., (2008). Value for Money and Policy Review Bovine Tuberculosis Eradication Programme. 1996–2006. Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/publications/2008/valueformoneyandpolicyreviewbovinetuberculosiseradicationprogramme1996-2006/
70. Farming after foot and Mouth. http://www.tbfreeengland.uk.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/RP01-67.pdf
71. 81%of the population are against the proposed culling of Badgers (Bow Group research 2012). http://www.bowgroup.org/policy/bow-group-urges-government-scrap-badger-cull-plans
72. The Citizen newspaper poll found 90.2% were against the cull (4 Oct 2012).
73. Control of Bovine (bTB ) Cattle Biosecurity - Part 5 NFU Southwest http://www.southwest-tbadvice.co.uk/uploads/TB_Bulletin_5-Cattle_Bio-security_30_11_10.pdf
74. BTB remains in slurry for up to two years. M. bovis is expected to persist in slurry-treated soil for up to two years http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2710499/
75. M. bovis is expected to persist in slurry-treated soil for up to two years. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2710499/#R61
76. Bovine TB : a review of badger to cattle transmission. http://www.dardni.gov.uk/afbi-literature-review-tb-review-badger-to-cattle-transmission.pdf
77. 22% of new bTB cattle detected at slaughter. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/damian-carrington-blog/2012/oct/05/badger-cull-tb-cattle
78. TB Vaccination of Badgers www.bacvi.org.uk
79. The use of dogs and Defra. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/69586/pb13716-shooting-guidance.pd
80 .Cattle bTB and ferrets, 4 out of 80 foxes had btB. http://www.bovinetb.info/docs/johngallt_b_review9-04.pd
81. Paul R. Torgerson and David J. Torgerson stated in their paper ‘Public health and bovine tuberculosis: what’s all the fuss about?' READ HERE