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MP's fury at ten-year wait for vaccine to control TB

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 25, 2013

Comments (11)

A cattle vaccine to halt the march of tuberculosis ravaging Westcountry herds will not be available until 2023 at the earliest, EU officials have confirmed.

Critics of the Government's plan to cull badgers to tackle bovine TB have long demanded vaccination be deployed instead.

While officials in Brussels have indicated there is the prospect of lifting an EU ban on a cattle vaccine, they suggest it will not happen within the next ten years.

Cornwall MP George Eustice, who serves on the environment select committee of MPs, said the cross-party group would investigate the "totally unacceptable" delay.

The disease leads to 25,000 sick cattle being slaughtered a year, principally in the rural South West where tuberculosis in cattle is rife, leaving farmers facing misery and hardship and the taxpayer having to pay compensation heading towards £1 billion.

In the Commons yesterday, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said EU Health Commissioner Tonio Borg had agreed a "provisional time-table" for "developing a workable cattle vaccine".

He said the commissioner "acknowledges the UK's leading role in pressing forward on a cattle vaccine and for the first time recognises that we are on course to deploy a vaccine".

He added: "The legal and scientific process could take up to ten years. In the meantime, we will continue to use all the tools at our disposal to check the progress of this terrible disease."

EU legislation prohibits cattle vaccines such as BCG, chiefly because of problems in distinguishing sick livestock from healthy cattle. International validation for tests to differentiate between them is the major sticking point.

In a letter to Mr Paterson, placed in the House of Commons library yesterday, Mr Borg outlined a five-stage process – including reaching a scientific consensus, devising new EU rules and testing the legislation – to ensure the vaccine and test is effective and safe. It has been earmarked to end in 2023.

Mr Eustice, Conservative MP for Camborne and Redruth, said: "There is no example in the world of TB ever being successfully tackled without also dealing the problem in the wildlife population so, in the short term, we do need to press ahead with pilot culls.

"However, it is totally unacceptable for the licensing of such a vaccine in the EU to take so long and this is an area that the Efra Select Committee of which I am part will be investigating urgently."

Experts say oral vaccinations for badgers are many years away, if at all possible, and an injectable vaccine for badgers – which has been trialled in Gloucestershire – is seen as both costly and impractical.

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  • Charlespk  |  January 26 2013, 2:00PM

    Again Mr.Eustice! Quote:- "There is no other vaccine available and there most probably will never be another one. .No matter how many millions more DEFRA invests (I hear of some 30 so far for the Vaccine only) this is nature - which cannot be forced by politics." . . . . . Dr Ueli Zellweger MRCVS GST TVL Somerset We have to get on with the cull or this will be your next problem. SCROFULA caused by these Acid-Fast Bacilli. EMAIL SENT/RECEIVED April 2nd. 2006 County Times. Powys, Mid Wales. "Dear Mary, This is winding up into something very nasty. We were told about the problem last autumn, but the newspapers / media had very little on it. Local vets and farmers knew and fed us bits. This (below) was published 30th. March, and our source has now had another conversation with SVS vets and private vets in the area. In the late 1990's just a couple of farms were under bTb restriction, but that has now surged to become 30/40. Dead badgers have been found in the area, including one on school playing fields. This carcass was taken to test for 'poison'. but HSE stepped in and stopped the post-mortem - inadequate Group 3 pathogen facilities (?). . It was riddled. SVS sent letters to Welsh Assembly / Page St. and they were lost stolen or strayed. The whole episode was buried. Page St. wanted absolutely no positive Tb badgers. In the last 3/4 years eight or nine children, not including this little one, have had treatment for enlarged neck glands. This involved either a 6 month course of antibiotics, or operations to remove. . Classic m.bovis lesions I'm told (by a vet) but referred euphemistically by doctors as "Atypical tuberculosis from a non human source". They are telling these kids, that they picked it up from the ground. The badgers use the school playing fields as latrines, and a newish housing estate borders the same farmland too. We're ignoring those canaries again. (reactor cows)" Scrofula caused by these Acid-Fast Bacilli. http://tinyurl.com/a5zvb9n (open in a new window) http://tinyurl.com/batb49y (open in a new window) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ @Mikethepike Immediately Post-War and for the first 20 years after, the badger population was still minimal. . People often went their whole lives without ever seeing these nocturnal animals. . Most people's first encounter was in car headlights or when they knocked one down at night and weren't sure what they hit when the numbers first started increasing. . False interpretations of how we nearly solved the problem with the far lower badger numbers is just clutching at straws. . You cannot change the epidemiology of this disease with your specious sophistry to try and hide your obvious ignorance of the subject. We've always known we would have continue slaughtering any reactors that turned up. . They act as the Canaries. . There aren't clinically sick cattle, but there are many hundreds of sick badgers and carriers with latent TB that are massive excreters of this bacteria.

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  • Jake_Blake  |  January 26 2013, 1:57PM

    And what happened in the 70's and 80's mike when TB reached even lower levels? It's an interesting footnote in history that farmers were right (One that really must hurt those that continue to live with an archaic stereotypical view of farmers). Thanks to the formation of the Badger Trust and the reduction of TB control strategies in the badger species, this disease has exploded in the badger population. It's taken nearly 30 years to prove farmers right and to start focusing on the badger vector of the disease again, cost the economy £3 billion and has resulted in premature death in 100's of thousands of cattle and inflict untold suffering on 10's of thousands of badgers. But, now we're 30 years on. Whether you accept it or not we have a huge endemic TB problem in the badger species that must be tackled. Of course cattle to cattle transmission is important factor in the control of TB but, it is one we are largely in control of and you're random muck throwing does little credit. If the TB testing regime didn't work, why are areas where TB is not endemic in the badger species so clean? The tougher controls are those imposed by politicians to the removal of derogations awarded on the scientific basis of being little to no risk in the transmission of TB. Hardly a triumph of science and it certainly wont halt the long term increasing trend of TB. It's very important to realise that this 12-16% is an AVERAGE. We all knew about what happened in the early years of the cull i.e the large negative perturbation effect (thanks in part to illegal activities). But, it's the later years where it gets interesting. We see a 70% reduction in the cull zones, a 50% reduction in the combined buffer and culling zones. The planned cull will have further measures in order to attempt to reduce this perturbation effect. It's important to note that because of this perturbation effect (which comes about because of our desire to have a healthy badger population come the end of this) it cannot be viewed as this is all that badgers contribute to TB. This was an aim of the RBCT which they stated early on would not be achieved, so trying to suggest this is all badgers play is very misleading. http://tinyurl.com/9lv54zd Now, over to Ireland. It's important to note they they've been using REACTIVE culling (which was abandoned in the UK) and not the more successful PROACTIVE culling as seen in the RBCT. It's also needs to be noted that in Ireland they also used snares, something recommended by Krebbs to work alongside cage trapping (i.e. to increase culling efficiency). So what's happened to Ireland? Well looking at the figures it seems likely 2012 will be similar to that of 2011. That being a disease that has more than halved in a decade and the long term trend heading downwards. Compare and contrast with the UK where the badger has been give "God-like" protection.

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  • Free2opine  |  January 26 2013, 1:49PM

    @Mikethepike......correct the first time.....wouldn't respond. I could give you chapter and verse including scientific/health reasons why you are still talking tripe and by the looks of your previous comments have always been talking tripe. The badger cull is going ahead for a reason and it has got NOTHING to do with politics. You should listen to people like Charlespk who obviously has a lot more knowledge on this subject than you give him credit for. I will say again that the cull is going ahead for a very good reason.

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  • Mikethepike  |  January 26 2013, 1:05PM

    One more go to tempt Charlespk out of his blind obsession with badgers. Do you accept, Charles, that bTB was rife in cattle before world war 2 and do you accept that the area by area bTB campaign in the 1950s and 1960s came close to eradicating bovine TB? Do you place all the blame for TB on badgers? Do you accept that the skin test is less than perfect (only 80 per cent effective)? Do you accept--as Defra, the NFU and all the top scientists do--that cattle infect cattle? Do you recognise the need for tight controls over the movement of cattle from farms with a poor TB history? And if you do, why has it taken successive governments so long to impose tougher rules to reduce cattle-to-cattle infection? Can you explain why the mass slaughter of badgers that you advocate will (using Defra figures) achieve so little in nine years? Free2opine wouldn't (wasn't able to) accept my invitation to respond. Will you, point by point?

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  • Charlespk  |  January 26 2013, 8:22AM

    Tedious? . Yes it is Mike; constantly having to repeat the facts of the situation to counter the continual drip of ill-informed nonsense put out by all you people, who don't really know the first thing about the subject. Spoligotyping, VNTR profiling and mapping demonstrates conclusively that you are just plain WRONG. There WILL be cull of badgers and the longer you manage to delay it the more severe that cull is going to have to be.

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  • Mikethepike  |  January 25 2013, 11:55PM

    Same tedious Charlespk: sees only one problem--badgers. Never so much as an acknowledgement that the problem is anything to do with farming, testing, disease-spreading cattle movement. Can't admit that in the 60s bTB was all but beaten by cattle measures alone. Dismisses the conclusions of the country's most emminent scientists (because they don't agree with his). Won't have it that the skin test is a major weakness that sustains bTB in herds. Ignores the outbreaks directly attributable to cattle bought in from farms with a poor TB history. All irrelevant in his sad world. His solution, slaughter all the badgers, never mind whether they are infected (and most aren't); don't bother about perturbation and its negative impact; don't bother to ask whether the slaughter in Ireland has worked. Won't answer the question: why is it that the proposed massacre of badgers will have such little impact.

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  • Mikethepike  |  January 25 2013, 9:48PM

    Just as I expected, Free2online. Lots of froth and nothing to back it up. True or not true: the postwar area by area eradication programme all but wiped out bTB without any badgers being culled? Mass badger slaughter in the Irish Republic hasn't solved their bTB problem. If badgers are the problem why does Defra forecast only 12-16 per cent improvement over NINE years after slaughtering tens of thousands of badgers? Come on, enlighten us.

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  • Free2opine  |  January 25 2013, 5:06PM

    @Mikethepike.......having gone back and read your comments, made on similar reports and also having seen that all this has already been explained to you, there seems to be little point in my giving you the facts as you seem incapable of learning anything!!!!!

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  • Mikethepike  |  January 25 2013, 4:50PM

    Come on, then Free2opine. Explain why?

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  • Free2opine  |  January 25 2013, 4:33PM

    I have never read so much ill-informed tripe, about the subject of bTB, as your comment Mikethepike.

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