Farmers must think very carefully before signing up to TB vaccination projects, according to the National Beef Association (NBA) TB Committee, which said that that emerging trends and practical situations must be considered as part of a holistic approach to TB risk management.
“While vaccination remains a useful tool in the box, it should only be used to create cordon sanitaires in areas, before the disease reaches that area,” explains Bill Harper, NBA TB committee chairman.
“There is no evidence whatsoever that demonstrates that vaccinating TB infected badgers will have any positive benefit,” he said. “Therefore, there will be no improvement in ether badger or cattle TB levels, in the HRA (High Risk Area) where badgers will be carrying a level of disease, if a vaccination project takes place.”
Evidence has emerged recently, from a Royal Agricultural University (RAU) group of experts, suggesting that the effectiveness of a cull is very dependent on how well it is implemented. The NBA has been working with a farmer who has had an outbreak of TB on his Devon farm in the last week, and insists it is crucial to ascertain the effectiveness of the local cull.
“While we have of course been offering support to the farmer during this difficult time, there are key questions we need to ask,” said Mr Harper. “Firstly, what is the spoligotype of the TB found? Does it match with the spoligotypes found where the purchased cattle came from? Secondly how effective was the local cull?”
Mr Harper added: “The analysis by RAU begs the question as to how well the cull was done in this particular farmer’s area. These are the issues that will be addressed, and the NBA is calling for a national conference to bring out all the more recently emerging details and trends, so that we can move quickly to learn from practical situations and amend the applications to get the best results.”