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Charity-funded badger vaccination trials could start this year, says MP

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: April 13, 2013

Charity-funded badger vaccination trials could start this year, says MP

Comments (13)

Plans for a project to administer a TB vaccine to badgers in the wild have moved a step closer to being realised after a successful meeting between farmers, vets and a politician in West Cornwall.

Andrew George, the MP for St Ives, called the meeting at an undisclosed location in Morvah "successful", and described himself as being "more optimistic" than he thought, that the project, which could start on a micro-scale as early as this year, would take place.

At a meeting called by Mr George in Penzance late last month, as part of a bid to tackle the growing problem of bovine TB in cattle without resorting to a cull, a small group of volunteers put themselves forward to help in the project and said they knew others that could too.

The St Ives MP said he would be speaking to ministers in coming weeks and drawing up a business plan.

It is estimated the project would cost anything from several hundred thousand pounds to the low millions and could be funded by the Department for Environment , Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), as well as charities and organisations.

He added the cost would be lower than a previously suggest £4 million because of the use of volunteers.

"I am more optimistic than I expected to be at this stage," he said.

"The meeting went well. It was really an opportunity to explain and answer questions from [the farmers]. It is obviously essential to have farmers on board.

"The next stage will involve drawing up a business plan, go and speak to ministers and also look at funding.

"I think the issue is really the scale at which it commences next year. I suspect we will probably start with a micro-area this year just to find out how we do it, what the pitfalls, challenges and obstacles are, and then start in earnest.

"While it seems the Government is determined to go ahead with its badger culling pilots in Somerset and Gloucestershire, I really don't think that such a project would ever get off the ground in this area.

"In any case, as I have already said in Parliament, I fear that such an approach is likely to be counterproductive and risks making the problem even worse."

The project already has the support of the National Trust, Cornwall Wildlife Trust and the Zoological Society of London, with the latter likely to take on the role of manager of the project.

Professor Rosie Woodroffe, a senior fellow at the Institute of Zoology and one of the Government's independent scientific advisers, said at the meeting in Penzance last month that she was convinced a cull would lead to perturbation, a phenomenon where normally sedentary badgers are disturbed and flee their setts, spreading infection.

Pilot culls were approved for Gloucestershire and West Somerset by environment secretary Owen Paterson in February, who also said a reserve pilot would be drawn up for Dorset.

Mr Paterson also said the cost of tackling bovine TB had cost £500 million in the past decade and could rise to £1 billion if action was not taken.

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  • Charlespk  |  April 16 2013, 9:31AM

    MPs urge action to tackle rise of TB. Back in 1997, Dr. Jerome Harms, Senior Scientist, Pathobiological Sciences at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison, wrote. "Recently, there have been many outbreaks of M.bovis caused tuberculosis in humans especially HIV+ patients. Most have occurred in countries where M.bovis is endemic in the animal agriculture population. Multi-drug resistant strains of M.bovis are now appearing as well. The significance of this TB threat from M.bovis has not been taken as seriously as the threat from M.tuberculosis " "However, the scientific and medical community must not ignore the potential of an M.bovis TB epidemic." Again; quite prophetically, he wrote that back in 1997. XAR and XDR TB (M.tuberculosis or M.bovis) http://tinyurl.com/boykwl2

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  • Charlespk  |  April 16 2013, 8:32AM

    @IMSofPZ This is old news and it has long been proven by spoligotype and VNTR profiling that this case was caused by the local badger population. Again it shows your callous disregard for human health as well as all other mammals. Being a badgerist won't give you or your family any special protection. M.bovis is constantly mutating with new strains as are all types of the M.tuberculosis genus. . There is less than 0.01% difference in their molecular make up. http://tinyurl.com/bwxembw (open in a new window)

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  • IMSofPZ  |  April 15 2013, 11:28PM

    At no point does the article mention badgers. Charlespk you make assumptions/select information to agree with your prejudices.

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  • Charlespk  |  April 15 2013, 11:58AM

    Badgers gave bTB to pet alpaca which then infected their owner. http://tinyurl.com/8a7bwy9 Wake up to the reality of what you are meddling with Andrew George.

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  • Charlespk  |  April 15 2013, 11:21AM

    I think Andrew George should now be permanently banned from being a member of parliament. It's like having a taxidermist telling people he's a Heart Surgeon so they'll vote for him. It's disgraceful behavior. Even more so when there are populations with children where BCG is still useful across the world in desperate need. MPs should get an education about these matters. http://tinyurl.com/83xps4g (open in a new window)

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  • Charlespk  |  April 15 2013, 11:01AM

    Trying to vaccinate badgers in the wild without first being able to test them or vaccinate the cubs is simply bad medicine and breaks all the long established rules of vaccination, even if it was remotely possible to vaccinate them all. . And in any case, the only time you can be sure if a badger either infected or clean is at Post Mortem (autopsy), unless they are clinically sick. Quote:- "There are a lot of vaccines against all kind of infections on the market. They normally give quite reliable results if administered correctly and in healthy animals (and humans). For Tuberculosis the common vaccine is the BCG which was found some 80 years ago and has been used to vaccinate healthy babies mainly. BCG does not prevent an infection like all other vaccines; it just keeps it from becoming generalized, thus reducing the risk that the bacteria are swept into various other organs followed by massive excretion (coughing, urine, faeces, milk etc). There is scientific evidence that the efficiency of BCG is not more than 50 % and in a lot of countries it is therefore not used any longer. Any animal, group or herd of with bTB is a focus and as long as such a focus is not eliminated it is a high risk for further infections. It is outrageous that these aspects are widely ignored by DEFRA for years now with absolutely no end in sight. In 2008 over 40,000 head of cattle reacting to bTB were slaughtered (10 % annual increase to be expected ) and nobody knows how many 10,000s of badgers and their setts are infected. Thus the infection within this most relevant wildlife reservoir is permanently growing including all its risks of infecting further cattle, other farm animals, pets and humans. Vaccinating badgers cannot be the solution for there are locally far too many badgers and setts infected, and vaccinating cattle with BCG is in my view absolutely contraindicated for the only way of diagnosing bTB in cattle will be seriously compromised. DEFRA thinks to manage to develop a DIVA test thus being able to differentiate between a skin reaction caused by bTB and the one caused by BCG. It is unclear if such a test ever will reach permission or Europeanwide approbation; however there is a high risk that some countries will decide at some stage that they are not interested in any English beef products any longer when it cannot be guaranteed that there is no bTB. The routine bTB skin test alone in many cases is unreliable enough (inconclusive or even false negative results) and the Gamma Interferon bloodtest - apart from being expensive - is quite often hampered by some other influences. There definitely is no need of another uncertainty in this whole issue. It is horror for me to see how things are going the wrong way and every month some hundred more farms are starting suffering dramatically. It is not 5 minutes before noon to rethink this whole approach by DEFRA - politically steered as it is - NO it is half past noon and even with a quick U turn the future of battling bTB looks bleak." . . . . . . . . . Dr Ueli Zellweger MRCVS GST TVL. Somerset (Feb.2010)

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  • Charlespk  |  April 15 2013, 8:22AM

    My sort!!? . How dare you insult me!! Your ignorance and stupidity is astounding. Animals? . . Animals? . . What except cattle, goats, deer, wild boar, alpaca, camels, dogs, cats, and any other mammal that's unfortunate enough to become infected by badgers? Get an education!!

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  • Caz123  |  April 14 2013, 10:50PM

    My passion is Animals, I find them desperately in need of protection, from your sort, I won't go over all the new evidence that champions badger bcg, I know it, you know it. You can belittle my passion as much as you like, it matters not. I suggest, you try working towards the qualification, and do the job, sounds like you would be much more suited, at the end of it, you may even appear more human to people.

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  • Charlespk  |  April 14 2013, 9:47PM

    And if you really want to do some good; get a qualification join the IVS and help vaccinate children in Africa or Asia where the BCG is still useful and is desperately needed.

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  • Charlespk  |  April 14 2013, 8:49PM

    That is irrelevant. You are sadly mistaken my friend even if you think you are doing the slightest bit of good. You are just fighting a bush fire with a watering can. Any badger you do save from a miserable death will just mean by increasing numbers of all other mammals of all species dying and suffering. . We need clean badgers not vaccinated badgers. And particularly not with BCG. Try and get an education.

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