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Cattle TB cases put badgers in spotlight

10 January 2004 - Lakeland Today

THE Government is to embark on a survey of badgers in the Furness peninsula following an unexplained rise in bovine TB incidents in South West Cumbria.

The survey by Defra (Department for Farming and Rural Affairs) will also monitor deer culled and found dead with suspect TB lesions within the survey area.

The structured survey will concentrate on badgers and deer killed on the roads in an area of around 180 sq kilometres with the intention of determining whether any of the animals are infected with bovine TB.

Cumbria has been relatively free from bovine TB for many years, but there has been an increasing incidence of outbreaks in cattle in recent months. While some of these are related to the purchase of infected cattle from other parts of country, there have been seven confirmed TB incidents in the Furness peninsula in the last 18 months where purchased livestock do not appear to be involved.

The State Veterinary Service is currently testing all of the cattle in the area.

Results from the extra testing of cattle and the Road Traffic Accident (RTA) survey will be used to determine the future cattle testing policy for the area. Farmers and members of the public who find a dead badger on the roads should contact the Animal Health Office in Carlisle, (Phone 01228 - 591 999) who will arrange for collection of the carcasses and transferral to the Veterinary Laboratory Agency's regional laboratory at Penrith for further examination.

Note from Badgerland
A very few cattle in the Furness peninsular were found to be infected with the bovine tuberculosis virus.
DEFRA failed to report that a series of "high-tech" blood tests were carried out on the individual strains of TB found in the cattle. This high-tech testing is known as genetic-typing or spoligotyping.
Unlike the older skin-prick-type tests, these more modern tests are totally accurate; and have confirmed that the so-called "Furness" strain of bovine TB has only ever been found in Shropshire until now. As badgers can not travel between Shropshire and Cumbria, this clearly indicates that the cause of this infection is cattle movements; and not badgers.

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