Bovine TB Advisory group publishes report

The Bovine TB Advisory Group has published its final report, which concludes that “renewed vigour” and sufficient resources are needed immediately to tackle the disease.

The report summarises the group’s work since it was convened in 2006 and makes a number of recommendations for the eradication of the disease. It also includes a document aimed at challenging myths and misunderstandings around bovine TB.

In the report, group chairman Peter Jinman emphasised the need to “restore a sense of urgency when dealing with TB” and pointed out that the government must ensure that sufficient resources, both physical and financial, are available to tackle the disease “efficiently and effectively”.

“Although control of the disease in cattle might be accomplished by cattle measures alone, the timescale is long and the cost to the farming industry and the public purse will be considerable,” he said.

He added that any eradication policy “must include measures for addressing the wildlife reservoir”, pointing out that many people involved with battling the disease are becoming disheartened with the lack of progress and feel that the failure to tackle the wildlife reservoir is undermining their efforts.

“There are not sufficient additional practical cattle controls which will result in the eradication of TB in the absence of measures to address infection in the wildlife reservoir.”

He recognised Defra’s decision to remove the option of culling badgers, but said that there should be other practical measures to break the transmission cycle.

“There is a need for strong and committed leadership (both government and industry) to develop a clear consensus on tackling this disease. Renewed vigour needs to be injected into this long campaign,” he said,

Since its conception, the group has provided advice to ministers and the chief veterinary officer on developing TB control policies, as well as playing an important role in communicating with farmers, vets and other stakeholders.

The final report will now be considered by the TB Eradication Group, which makes recommendations to the government on eradicating bovine TB in England.

The report and the document on myths and misunderstandings, can be found on the TB Advisory Group webpage here

Information about the TB Eradication Group can be found on Defra’s website here

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