BTB always has been and always will remain in the herd until improved cattle testing is used on the farm. It is available and must be used now. The current test is cruel to farmers, cattle, badgers and the public. We cannot get on top of a disease when we cannot test for it reliably. #WakeupDefra
Bovine TB, or Mycobacterium bovis, or bovine tubercle bacillus, is part of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex. The organism is carried by many animals including deer, cats, dogs, pigs, alpacas, sheep and, of course, cattle. Mycobacterium bovis is an aerobic bacterium and the cause of TB in cattle. Bovine TB can jump the species barrier and cause tuberculosis in humans, and this is where the problem has historically been. In the 1930s and 40s, it was responsible for over 50,000 cases a year and 2500 deaths annually. By 1960, all herds had been tested twice for TB, and all animals which had tested positive, or 'reactors', were slaughtered and it became a notifiable disease.
The government introduced compulsory cattle testing and devised a compensation programme for all destroyed cattle.
Bovine TB and Badger persecution, including culls has a long horrible history in Britain. Since 1971, when a Badger was found in Gloucestershire with TB, England and Wales have been killing badgers in an attempt to stop Bovine TB in cattle. Now, even to those, unfamiliar with pathogen diseases, something is obviously and immediately wrong with the destruction of a wild native (non-bovine) to 'save' domesticated bovine animals - Cattle. We have researched and recorded a timeline of Bovine TB in Britain over the last century and the Badger culls since William Haigh first announced that a Conservative Government would licence Badger culls and repeal the Hunting Act back in 2009.
The Welsh Government are working to eliminate bovine TB from an area of west Wales by targeting every possible source of infection. The area has the highest bTB herd breakdown in the country and is important for beef and dairy production. Their comprehensive approach, with strict attention to every detail, provides a comprehensive solution that is already showing improvements in bTB throughout the country. In an area of west Wales, they have put extra measures in place with the aim of eradicating the disease in the local cattle population. This area is called the Intensive Action Area (IAA). They established the IAA to tackle all sources of bovine TB infection in domestic and wild animal species. This is a similar approach to that used in New Zealand, where they have successfully eradicated the disease from large areas of the country.
Lame claims explain in detail why the badger cull will fail and why we believe it will not impact on the reduction BTb in cattle and may make matters worse. It has been divisive in the countryside and financially it is not viable. Bovine TB impacts on the farming community, cattle and conservationists alike we, therefore, need to find a sustainable and effective way to reduce the herd breakdowns. We believe that culling badgers cannot help bTB in cattle. Save Me Trust is currently working with farmers and the NFU to look at this issue. The current badger cull is failing farmers, failing cattle and failing badgers. Click here to read the complete lame claims file on the badger cull or click on the individual claims below.
The logical way forward is to vaccinate the cattle and this is the one area where both sides agree. The reason we don't vaccinate cattle at this time is we couldn't sell them in Europe due to regulations. This was proposed in 1997 by Lord Krebs in his report. We are waiting for a DIVA test to be accepted to differentiate between vaccinated and wild strains. We are supporting the campaign to vaccinate badgers. Badger BCG alone is not the solution to bTB, but it does have an immediate effect with no associated negative impact. The Governments Vaccine Deployment Project is one such undertaking.
The Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT) was the first robust scientific evaluation of the effect of badger culling on cattle TB. It lasted 10 years and cost in excess of £50 million. It was overseen by an Independent Scientific Group (ISG).
Two culling treatments were undertaken: reactive culling where localised culls were carried out on farms that had recently experienced a TB outbreak in cattle, and proactive culling where larger scale areas were culled. Both these treatments were restricted to regions where the historical incidence of TB in cattle was high. In addition to culling, there were matched "control" areas where no culling was carried out. The principle is the same as we see in medical trials, where one segment of the population receives a treatment drug and another receives a placebo, the idea being that, at the end of the trial, any significant effects can be reliably ascribed to the treatment.
One thing we all know and agree on is that Lord Krebs' and the RBCT Trial states that culling badgers in small areas increases the spread of bovine Tb and increases the frequency of bTB within badgers.
SO WHY ARE FARMERS ILLEGALLY CULLING?
No one can deny that bTB has spread across the country over the last decade yet controversy rages as to the reason for the spread.