May 11-13 2007 ~"another beacon lighting the Byzantium attitutudes from the government veterinary service and DEFRA "



Email received from Dr Fink 11 May 2007

Dear Mary,

I am sure that you know this but alas, a positive skin reaction to TB in an animal is not more than an indicator for the animal having met the infection and raised antibodies and a white cell memory .

The many imperfections with this test are false positive, and partial reaction. Many animals who show reaction to the test do not have active disease.

The obverse/ perverse is that some with rampant TB have a negative skin test as they have no T cell response and have made no attempt at an immune response to limit the spread of the organism.

There is another test made for man which demonstrates active disease only. It is not yet licenced for animal use and there is the usual resistance to anything new from the usual 'authorities' . Certainly an animal broken down with disease is an infection risk for all who have contact with it.

I do not share the religious concerns expressed about this one animal but I do believe that a second skin test, an interferon test and the system sold by Immunotec (Abingdon) and any other improvement in diagnosis is long overdue. This hapless but apparently perfectly well animal, and attendants are another beacon lighting the Byzantium attitutudes from the government veterinary service and DEFRA. Will the last ungulate please turn out the light (or perhaps close the gate lest another is left).

Yours Colin

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Dr Colin G Fink
Clinical Virologist & Hon. Senior Lecturer in Biological Sciences University of Warwick