4 April 2014 | By Alistair Driver
A MAJOR veterinary investigation is underway after a number of herds across Britain tested positive for bovine TB following a dispersal sale from a Cumbrian dairy herd.
More than 100 animals from a Cumbrian dairy were sold at the end of February at a market in Cheshire to buyers from across England, Wales and Scotland.
After some of the cattle sold were found to have tested positive for bTB, AHVLA launched a nationwide operation to trace, isolate and test all animals from the sale, alongside increased surveillance in surrounding herds.
The incident has generated significant concern among Government vets and the farming industry and raised fresh questions about the effectiveness of TB surveillance in England’s four-year testing areas, where pre-movement testing is not compulsory.
The disease has been confirmed at the Cumbrian farm which sold the cattle and it has been placed under movement restrictions. TB testing of neighbouring holdings within a 3km (1.9-mile) radius is underway.
An AHVLA spokesman said: “We are aware of a number of TB-positive cattle cases across Great Britain linked to the sale of dairy cattle from a herd in Cumbria.
“AHVLA has taken robust and rapid action to identify all animals originating from this herd so they can be isolated and tested for TB.”
He said it was too early to comment on the likely number of herds involved, or how this could have happened with a herd originating in the relatively clean four-year area.
“This incident highlights how serious a problem TB is for all cattle farmers, regardless of where they farm,” he said.
NFU North West regional director Robert Sheasby said: “We’ll continue to be involved in supporting our affected members in Cumbria and across the country and working with AHVLA. Investigations into the outbreak are at an early stage.
“It would be premature to speculate as to the origin of infection in the Cumbrian herd.”
The incident will prompt further debate about cattle TB controls as Defra publishes its long-term TB eradication strategy for England, which covers TB testing and movement controls and includes a proposal for comulsory post-movement testing in the TB Low Risk Area.
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