Clouds lift over TB

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

FOR once, there is good news about bovine TB: Eng­land can ap­ply for Of­fi­cially Tb-free (OTF) sta­tus for the first time. This comes two years ahead of sched­ule and ap­plies to more than half the coun­try, in the north and east—the dis­ease, which caused the de­struc­tion of more than 28,000 cat­tle in 2015, is still wide­spread in the south-west and Mid­lands. A much wider bad­ger cull across the West Coun­try seems to have paid off: min­i­mum tar­gets were ex­ceeded in all 10 op­er­a­tions and a to­tal of 8,404 badgers re­moved. In 2017, there will be greater use of blood test­ing, which is more sen­si­tive, and new pow­ers to man­age the risk of TB in pigs, sheep, goats, deer and al­pacas along­side fur­ther culls and ro­bust move­ment con­trols. Vac­ci­na­tion of badgers in mar­ginal ar­eas will re­sume in 2018. Vac­cine stocks ran out last year. ‘Gain­ing global recog­ni­tion that more than half of Eng­land is Tb-free will be a sig­nif­i­cant milestone and will open up trad­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties,’ re­ports Defra Sec­re­tary An­drea Lead­som. KG

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