05-04-2022 - Ben Sellick BVSc MRCVS - 0 comments
TB update - April 2022

Since my last newsletter in June 2021 (which unsurprisingly was also on TB), there have been a number of changes to government policy across England and Wales. I hope to discuss the current situation, addressing the effects TB has had on so many in the agricultural industry and what the changes in policy mean for all of us as we continue to battle this disease.

You can view the full newsletter here

Badger Cull and Badger Vaccination

2022 will be the last year that cull companies can apply for new intensive badger cull licenses and all supplementary cull licenses will stop in 2023.The government has decided that a comprehensive badger vaccination program will replace the badger cull, but as yet we have no idea what this program will look like. APHA has carried out a number of studies aimed at testing the efficacy of vaccinating badgers with the following findings reported:

 

  • Vaccination reduces the likelihood of badgers developing lesions or excreting TB bacteria  
  • Vaccination reduces the rate of new infections (measured using diagnostic tests) in badgers by 76% 
  • Vaccinating more than 1/3 of adults in a badger social group reduces new infections (measured using diagnostic tests) in unvaccinated badger cubs by 79% . So, for badgers at least, we know that vaccination can reduce TB. 

Our worry is that whilst APHA try to devise a seemingly last minute plan on how to deliver badger vaccination, the gains that have been made from the culls will be lost. It feels that politics once again has muddied the waters of evidenced based progress, and the short-sited plans to stop the badger cull so abruptly and with no practical alternative may do considerable damage.

 

Culling badgers is not part of the governments long term control strategy but there are valid points to be made around how we move forward and learn from our experiences and evidence base. The Downs report provided evidence that culling badgers helped reduce the incidence of TB in cattle.

There is currently no evidence to suggest badger vaccination would reduce TB in cattle, but it would be  expected that reducing TB in badgers would eventually have a beneficial effect on TB in cattle. The lack of information from APHA on how this will be carried out, who will be expected to pay and on what scale leaves many serious questions to be answered.

You can read the full newsletter above - click the link

And if you haven't yet heard, we are now planning the final details of our Cow Convention next month. Please contact the office for more details - Tickets £10+Vat.

Cow Convention 18th May


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