TB Update August 2010
Firstly it would be a total injustice if I didn’t start this update with a huge thank you to Mike Birch who sadly resigned from the BAS Board in early August... To say Mike Birch was pro active on the TB front would be an understatement and we have so much to thank him for. I cannot tell you the number of hours Mike dedicated to the issue and he certainly was the driving force behind the TB Awareness meetings and keeping the members informed in his Chairman’s reports in the BAS magazine. He kept in constant contact with me and was always at the end of the phone if we needed help. He always wanted to be kept up to date on the data we gather from the Support group and prior to every Board meeting he asked me for an update on the current losses number of herds under restriction etc– which I always gave him. Mike and I worked closely together on the TB issue and that contact certainly helped me because believe it or not although I run the support group I too need support from time to time and he always managed to make me smile on days when things got very tough. So Mike a huge thank you from me and the TB Support Group and we wish you well. You will be missed. I hope whoever takes your place will follow your example of what a Chair should be and the Board continue to be pro-active on the Tb front for all our sakes.
According to DEFRA as of August 15th 2010 there are now currently approximately 35 herds under Tb movement restrictions and several others awaiting confirmation by culture. This figure as you know can change on a weekly basis as new herds come under restriction and others come out of restriction. In July 2009 only 11 herds were under restriction so in one year the figure has trebled. If this pattern continues potentially 100 herds could be under restriction this time next year.
In the TB Support Group we have a further 14 herds (myself included) that have been under restriction and are now clear. Therefore a minimum of 49 herds have been affected. Sadly as one of my group come out of restriction another comes on. Those in touch with the TB Support group have suffered 155 losses between 1st Jan 2010 and 1st August 2010 so our small group has already exceeded the number of losses for last year. Please understand not all herds under restriction are in touch with the support group - therefore I have no idea of the total losses from the other herds.
The problem isn’t going away nor is it getting better. Herds have been affected not only by direct local wildlife but by way of purchase or agisted mating and sadly lots of alpacas on long term agistment have fallen to TB. When Tb is confirmed in a herd – every animal on that farm at the time no matter who owns it or whether it is on a short term stay is put under restriction and will be included in the testing process. Think long and hard before you send your animals away for any reason-even short term.
If you are misfortunate to come down to Tb you must notify all your forward and back contacts as soon as you know you have Tb in your herd. You must be honest with Animal Health when they contact you and they ask for your movement records. Sadly some breeders are not doing this and Animal Health are finding breakdowns linked by strain type to herds where Tb was confirmed and the breeder hadn’t told Animal health nor the contacts. This is unacceptable. Defra and Animal health hands are tied – they have no legal powers to insist on movement records they are totally reliant on the honesty of the herd owners. Failure to not comply with Animal Health is a breach of the BAS Code of Conduct section 5 which clearly states. “Owners should fully co-operate with Animal Health and facilitate testing and provide accurate movement records when requested”.
The problem is:
In the case of at least one commercial herd with a serious bTB problem, by not giving their full movement records to Animal Health and also not contacting their clients who had purchased from them or had agisted matings etc., Animal Health wasn’t able to contact these people and offer testing. The herds also remained totally unaware that they had brought TB into their herds until they suffered their first loss, and were therefore unable to take the necessary measures on their own farms to minimise the spread. These people then sadly end up in the TB Support Group. There are likely to be others who have yet to find they have purchased the problem with their new herd, purchase or matings.
Owing to the scale of this, it is inevitable that this is going to come out in the public domain and sadly as always the decent honest and responsible herds that are under restriction are going to be tarred with the same brush as those that are not. The BAS board have been notified of this last weekend, and are aware it is happening and who is doing it. If you are concerned please contact the Directors of B.A.S. There email addresses and phone numbers are on the BAS website.
I am pleased to say that the breeder in question is NOT a member of the TB Support Group.
Lastly we are developing a website (http://www.alpacatb.com) dedicated to Tb in Camelids which hopefully will be up and running soon. The site will feature everything you need to know on the subject and will become a one stop shop so to speak for up to date Tb information and advice.
If you are under restriction please contact either myself Dianne Summers on firstname.lastname@example.org 01209 822422 or Dr Gina Bromage on email@example.com your name or County will never be released not even to the other members of the Support Group without your permission.