Immunising possums is effective against bTB
Guardian - Wednesday July 19, 2000
by James Meikle
Imagine a countryside filled with
badger traps, that were not prisons designed to hold animals until
they could be shot, but revolving doors through which wildlife
could be enticed for a quick facial spray to vaccinate them
against bovine TB.
It is not that fanciful. Tests in
New Zealand are well under way to treat possums, blamed for
spreading bovine TB in cattle, just as badgers are prime suspects
for infecting herds in the UK.
Possums are regarded as pests by
most Kiwis, whereas in the UK badgers are protected and even
fondly regarded by many farmers, some of whom are now diversifying
into badger-watching activities.
Next month, Professor Roger Morris,
from Massey University, Palmerston North, in New Zealand, a
leading researcher in the vaccine field, will speak at an
international conference in Cambridge. He will detail his progress
and further stir debate on whether the British government,
enmeshed in a bruising public relations battle defending its
controversial, if limited, £7m a year badger cull, is really
doing enough with its other research spending - £4m last year -
into investigating other ways of combating the disease.....
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