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DEFRA - bTB Consultation

Late in August DEFRA announced a further consultation exercise concerning the bovine TB eradication programme – some of you may well be aware of it. The consultation is in 3 parts:
 
A consultation on introducing compulsory testing for all cattle entering low-risk areas, such as the north and east of England, to reduce the risk of new TB cases in these regions.
 
A consultation on changes to the criteria for future badger control licences such as reducing the minimum area for a licence – an approach based on the latest scientific evidence and supported by the Chief Vet.
 
A call for views on controlling TB in non-bovine animals such as pigs, goats, and deer. (Including Camelids).
 
Please follow the links below to the relevant part of the DEFRA website where you can see the full details and the online response template.
 
The press release:

 
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-proposals-to-protect-livestock-from-bovine-tb
 
The consultation document associated with the “call for views” component:
 
https://consult.defra.gov.uk/bovine-tb/tb-in-non-bovine-farmed-animals-call-for-views/supporting_documents/Nonbovine%20call%20for%20views%202015%20FINAL.pdf-1
 
The online response form where you can offer your views:
 
https://consult.defra.gov.uk/bovine-tb/tb-in-non-bovine-farmed-animals-call-for-views
 
The BLS Board is preparing a response and would be keen to hear your views, e-mail me at the address below.
 
In addition you may wish to respond directly on the DEFRA proposals. Note that the consultation also introduces the concept of a variable rate of compensation for animals compulsorily slaughtered which could be based on the “commercial” valuation of the animals and the degree of bio-security implemented by the owners.
 
We are working in consultation with BAS to try and harmonise our views.
 
Tim Crowfoot

Chairman, The British Llama Society
Downholme, Northend Lane, Droxford,
Southampton, SO32 3QN
t: 01489 877631

e-mail:
timcrowfoot@btinternet.com

bTB and Compensation Update

From 1st October 2014 new legislation has come into effect in England that covers bTB testing in all South American camelids.
  If TB is suspected in your herd then DEFRA will impose immediate restriction and then, if TB is confirmed, have the right to enter a holding, use a priming skin test followed by two blood tests (10 days or so later) on all your camelids and then slaughter those camelids shown to be positive to TB by any one of the 3 tests. There will be a statutory compensation payment (£750) for those slaughtered animals. If bTB is found in your herd you no longer have the right to refuse entry to your property or refuse skin and blood testing of your animals.
  At this point in time the only two blood tests which will be used by DEFRA/AHVLA in the event of a confirmed TB breakdown are the Stat Pak and IDEXX tests. The Stat Pak is soon to be replaced by the new DPP test which works in a very similar way to Stat Pak.
 
As you know BLS has been working with BAS to promote a voluntary surveillance testing regime where camelid owners can pay to have their animals tested using a combination of the Stat-Pak and Idexx tests (both to be positive for an animal to be deemed infected) or a single Enferplex test. In both cases priming about 10 days before by a skin test is desirable since this makes the blood tests more sensitive. Such a test protocol can also be used as a pre-movement or pre-export test. The chance of a false positive with these combinations of tests is almost zero. These tests are available now should members want to use them. Your vet should be approached to take the blood samples and organise the tests.
 
Note that the DEFRA test regime to be used in a herd suspected of having TB is more stringent with any test being positive being grounds for slaughter. This is so that as many animals that might have TB can be identified and removed as quickly as possible to minimise spread to others in the herd. The chance of a false positive is greater under these conditions.
 
BAS and BLS are working together to encourage DEFRA to offer the Enferplex test as a choice for the mandatory test if a herd is confirmed with TB. As yet DEFRA are resisting this despite the offer of funding to set the VLA up with the required test equipment. A letter is about to be sent to the minister, George Eustace MP, asking for an explanation of DEFRA’s decision to exclude the Enferplex test and for that decision to be changed.
 
We will keep you informed as discussions progress. Note that Wales has its own regulations and that the Scottish Parliament has just announced a consultation on a plan to introduce very similar arrangements in Scotland to those just introduced in England.

 
The new English legislation can be viewed here  http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2014/2338/made
 
The Scottish Parliament is proposing similar legislation. Details of the Scottish consultation are here
 
 http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2014/09/9485
 
Welsh legislation, already in place, can be found here 
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/wsi/2011/692/contents/made
 
 
If you need any more information please contact
 
Tim Crowfoot Chairman, The British Llama Society Downholme, Northend Lane, Droxford, Southampton, SO32 3QN t: 01489 877631 e-mail:
timcrowfoot@btinternet.com

Enferplex Test for Bovine TB

Update from the Chairman


The Enferplex Test for Bovine TB in camelids is launched by Surefarm
 
I attended the launch event for the new Enferplex test at Inca Alpacas near Dorset on 17th July. The test is now available for members to use via their veterinary practice. The test has been developed over the last several years by MV Diagnostics and Surefarm has worked in consultation with MV Diagnostics to offer the service.
 
The test looks for antigens to bTB in a blood sample drawn from the camelid. The test was one of a number of blood tests studied in research done by AHVLA sponsored by the camelid societies. It is fully endorsed by DEFRA.
 
The test is entirely voluntary and can be used for annual surveillance of a camelid herd, for pre-movement and for pre-export testing. The test has been shown to have a reasonable sensitivity and, very importantly, a very high specificity which means that the chance of a false positive is very very small. For full details of how the test works and how you can get your vet to perform the test are on the Surefarm website.

 
http://www.surefarm.co.uk/

I asked about the cost of the test and this was quoted as £12 plus VAT and carriage. The testing must be organised through your vet who will extract the necessary blood samples from your animals which of course will also have to be paid for. At the launch the Inca Alpaca vet drew blood from 2 alpacas and made it look very easy!
 
BAS, BCL and BLS continue to work together with DEFRA/AHVLA to work up the protocols for the test process to be followed if a herd suffers a TB breakdown when DEFRA will mandate serological (blood antibody) testing in the future. Under these circumstances a more complex dual testing regime is proposed. The entirety of the new protocols are slated to be introduced from 1st October.
 
I will continue to keep you abreast of the situation as things develop but in the meantime a test is now available for you to use which is far superior to the skin test.
 
If any of you want any more information please look at the Surefarm website and do feel free to contact me a any time.
 
Tim Crowfoot

Chairman, The British Llama Society
Downholme, Northend Lane, Droxford,
Southampton, SO32 3QN
t: 01489 877631
e-mail:
timcrowfoot@btinternet.com

bTB - Where are we now ?


Bovine Tuberculosis in Camelids – Where We Are Now?


Background

Bovine tuberculosis is a bacterial disease which can affect a wide range of mammal species, including man, which makes it a zoonosis, and it is therefore notifiable. Notifiable diseases must, by law, be reported to the government (in this case to the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency, AHVLA) if they are suspected or confirmed.

The group of bacteria which cause bovine TB, human TB, avian TB, vole TB (and leprosy) are Mycobacteria. Diseases caused by this group of bacteria are characterized by a long course of infection where the patient can survive with infection (and be infectious) for months or even years. The human versions of these diseases are notoriously difficult to treat, and until relatively recently they were regarded as almost incurable. The disease we usually see in llamas and alpacas is caused by Mycobacterium bovis, also known as M. bovis.

What does bTB look like?

It would be really helpful if there was a set of signs which were always associated with TB infection. Unfortunately, they seem to be able to show a wide variety of signs, some very subtle, or none at all. When llamas and alpacas get bTB they may well become obviously ill with respiratory disease, fail to respond to treatment for pneumonia, and then die. However, they can also die quite suddenly without ever appearing ill, even while in good body condition. Many cases have been diagnosed after sudden death. This means that camelids showing no outward signs at all can be heavily infected. The vast majority of camelids culled for bTB have failed the Rapid Stat Pak test, but passed the skin test. Herds where bTB has been confirmed, and which elected to use the Rapid Stat Pak test, have found that perfectly healthy looking camelids with no outward signs of disease, were found to have bTB lesions. If these animals had remained undetected, then they may well have survived for some considerable time, and been a source of infection to the rest of the herd, and let us not forget, this is a zoonosis, so in contact humans are also at risk of infection.

History

Until about 10 years ago, the incidence of bTB in camelids seemed to be relatively low, but quite suddenly infection seemed to snowball:



This chart is on the AHVLA website:
publication date : 23/08/2012 next publication date : 31/10/2012
Table 3: Annual numbers of new incidents of culture-confirmed M.bovis identified on South American camelid premises in GB













































Year of disclosure Infected herds (with > 1 dead or culled animal) Type of herd infected (herd with > 1 culled animal) Location of affected herds
1999-2003 5 2x alpaca 3x llama Gwent (2 llama holdings), Gloucestershire (alpaca), Herefordshire (llama), Somerset (alpaca)
2004 1* alpaca Devon
2005 1 llama Avon
2006 2 (1) 1x alpaca 1x llama (1) Sussex (alpaca), Devon (llama)
2007 3 (3) 2x alpaca (2) 1x llama Carmarthenshire (llama), Powys (alpaca), Dorset (alpaca)
2008 11 (6) 9x alpaca (4) 2x llama Carmarthenshire (llama), Devon (1 llama, 1 alpaca), Avon (2), Cornwall, Gloucestershire (3), Herefordshire, Worcestershire
2009 12 (6) all alpacas Devon (3), Derbyshire, Gloucestershire (2), Shropshire, Somerset (2), Staffordshire, Worcestershire (2)
2010 15 (6) all alpacas Devon (4)***, Cornwall (3), Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Monmouthshire, Staffordshire (2), Warwickshire, Worcestershire
2011 6 (4) ** all alpacas Cornwall, Dorset, Gloucestershire (2), South Gloucestershire (near Bristol)****, Warwickshire
2012 (2nd quarter) 5 (1) ** 3x alpacas 2x llama (1) Carmarthenshire, Somerset, West Midlands, West Sussex, Worcestershire
(*) No culture possible, but typical histopathology and PCR positive for MTB complex. (**) The figure in parentheses may increase as some of those incidents have not been closed and ongoing live testing may identify further cases. (***) Three of those were epidemiologically linked via movements/purchases of infected animals and could therefore be considered one TB incident. (****) Location was incorrectly referred to as Avon in previous updates. Updated by Defra TB Programme 23rd August 2012

The number of herds under restriction for bTB at any one time fluctuates, but since herds come out of restriction almost automatically* after 6 months this is a poor guide to the number of herds which harbour infection. 61 herds have had bTB confirmed, but other herds may be placed under restriction from tracing, or for being contiguous with an infected herd, or in contact with an infected herd.

*It is at present legally permissible for restrictions to be lifted following two consecutive clear skin tests, and since the skin test for bTB in camelids has been shown to be less than 5% effective, it means that even a herd with active bTB infection can have its restrictions lifted quite legally, because infection will be missed by the skin test.

Transmission of infection

Infected alpacas and llamas tend to have very extensive tuberculous abscesses throughout their internal organs, and will shed infection in sputum, (and therefore spit) and faeces. There is also the possibility of infection via milk, since abscesses have been found in the udder. No secretion from an infected animal should be regarded as safe.

For these reasons, if an animal is suspected of having infection, it must be treated as a serious potential threat both to the other members of the herd and to people – there are two documented cases of infection transferring to humans from infected camelids. (Interestingly, despite the much greater number of cattle, bTB transmission from them to humans is rare.) Suspect animals must be isolated with a companion animal (which may end up being sacrificed if infection is confirmed) at least 3 metres from nose to nose contact with any other stock, and sharing no troughs, water or walkways.

Sources of Infection

Other infected camelids in direct contact, or their secretions on ground, feed, feeding utensils.

Wildlife, especially badgers which secrete huge numbers of bTB bacteria when infected.

Infected farm animals, in practice, most likely to be cattle, via direct contact or body secretions on ground or feed or water. (This includes colostrum from infected cows.)

Tests for bTB infection

At present the only legally accepted test is the comparative intradermal skin test, as used in cattle. Research into other tests which use blood samples has demonstrated that the skin test is less than 5% sensitive, which means that for every one infected animal detected by the skin test at least 20 will be missed. However, blood tests which detect the immune response to bTB have undergone trials in camelids and demonstrated a better accuracy; AHVLA have very recently decided on the best way to deploy these in the fight against bTB, and what is absolutely clear, is that we can not control bTB using the skin test alone. Please see links to the Open Letter from DEFRA TB Policy to all Keepers of South American Camelids in the UK.

Early research has been, and is being done on the molecular biology technique known as PCR. This stands for Polymerase Chain Reaction, and can detect tiny quantities of target DNA (in this case bTB). Preliminary results are encouraging, and as it can be done on sputum and faeces, which can be taken from live animals, it opens the possibility of detecting infection in a herd
before the first animal actually dies of the disease. It is a much quicker process than culture, so the 8-12 week wait for culture results which is currently required before infection can be confirmed in a herd would be hastened. Infected animals would then not remain in a herd to spread more infection for as long as they do at present.

Control of bTB Nationally

At present control measures are entirely voluntary. There is no routine surveillance for bTB in camelids. The infection is discovered only when a camelid dies, and the owner is responsible enough to have it examined post mortem. This is obviously a concern, since very many owners neglect to have all of the camelids they lose go to post mortem examination.

What you can do – THINK!

PM all of your losses: This is the only way to be sure that you are not losing animals to bTB.

Practise good biosecurity – don’t allow your animals to mix with those from other premises. If new animals come onto your property do a risk assessment on the source farm, or else keep them isolated from your herd. bTB has definitely been transmitted via agisted matings, where females travel to a different farm and stay there until pregnant and are kept with other females from different farms. bTB infection has also been bought in with new stock many times. When camelids move around they take any infection, bTB included, with them. You may find that you are placed under restriction because you are agisting, or have bought animals from farms which go down to bTB, and your farm becomes a “tracing”.

Use foot dips when you have visitors to your herd, and don’t allow other farms’ vehicles onto your land without thorough wheel disinfection.

Keep wildlife, especially badgers, away from your stock. Feed and water sources are especially important.
Never feed from the ground, use hay racks, and troughs which are cleaned and up ended when not in use. Raise water troughs so that badgers can not reach them; fitting a roller bar around a trough so a climbing badger can not get a grip is a good trick.

For further information, visit www.alpacatb.org

Gina Bromage

bTB Research update


The work on developing a satisfactory test for bTB in camelids has moved a stage further with the release of some of the results for the second stage of the research into a PCR test. This test essentially looks for the DNA of the bTB bacillus in nasal swabs or the faeces of an animal suspected of having the disease.

The research is now showing that the PCR test can detect bTB at quite an early stage in its development in a camelid. This work has been initiated by the TB Support and Advisory Group and both British Camelids and BLS have contributed significantly to the work which is being done by the VLA in their Starcross Laboratory.

If this develops well then a PCR test offers a relatively cheap and easy way of testing for TB. It is non-invasive and provided care is taken in taking the faecal samples then there is no risk of false positives.

You can find out more on the TBSRG website at
www.alpacatb.org and click on the PCR tab and then explore the associated PCR pages.

The same website also offers a nice explanation of the recent VLA research on the various anti-body tests – click on the bTB tests tab.

Camelid Tb Support and Research Group

  • The purpose of the this Support and Research Group is two fold - First and most importantly it is to provide detailed help, information and advice to those who suffer a bTB breakdown in their herd. The Group hope it will give you enough information to help you through the sometimes traumatic experience that lies ahead. You will be faced with difficult decisions and the Group hope their website will help you.

  • Secondly, the Group aim to educate all camelid owners about bTB with the hope that the advice given will greatly reduce the risk of an outbreak happening to you.

  • See the website at www.alpacatb.org

  • Further contact details :

  • Dianne Summers

  • Camelid Tb Support and Research Group

  • Welfare Rep Cornwall Alpaca and Llama Group

  • on 01209 822422 and

  • 07949511316

Bulletin No.42 - TB - Defra Policy

AN OPEN LETTER FROM DEFRA TB POLICY TO BAS/BLS MEMBERS AND ALL KEEPERS OF SOUTH AMERICAN CAMELIDS IN ENGLAND
 
Below is an open letter from DEFRA explaining how they intend to move forward now that the results of the research that BAS, BCL and BLS sponsored with the AHVLA on the effectiveness of several blood tests for bTB has been considered. The DEFRA position has been reached following consultation with the 3 Societies and the TB Research and Support Group. As you will read, DEFRA is going to use a combination of the blood tests to aid in the rapid identification of camelids that are highly likely to have bTB in situations where a herd has had a proven case of TB (proven by post mortem and tissue culture).
 
In addition DEFRA is proposing that private testing of camelids using the blood tests (prior to movement or export say) could be authorised in the future and once agreed with the devolved governments of Scotland and Wales. We have not been given costs of carrying out private testing.
 
Those of you that wish to look at the VLA research report can find it on the BLS website at
 
http://www.britishllamasociety.org/webfiles/SAC.pdf

LIZ BUTLER
Vice Chairman BLS & Health & Welfare Representative
Nutfield Park Farm, South Nutfield, REDHILL, Surrey Tel: 01737-823375



Shaun Daniel BAS Liz Butler BLS
24 September 2012

Dear Shaun and Liz

AN OPEN LETTER FROM DEFRA TB POLICY TO BAS/BLS MEMBERS AND ALL KEEPERS OF SOUTH AMERICAN CAMELIDS IN ENGLAND

We are aware that some of your members may have become confused and anxious as a result of comments circulating within your sectors regarding the research commissioned by BAS, BLS and British Camelids Ltd into blood tests for the diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB) in camelids. We hope, therefore, that you can consider circulating the following to all your members with the aim of reassuring them about the facts behind these important issues.

What is the status of the research undertaken in 2011-2012 for BAS, BLS and British Camelids Ltd?
The study in question was completed earlier this year. It was led by the TB immunology team in the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) at Weybridge, a research group of international repute. This work assessed the key performance characteristics of a new cell-based interferon-gamma blood test and four existing antibody blood tests (Chembio’s STAT-PAK and DPP, the IDEXX’ ELISA and the ENFERplex) for the diagnosis of TB in live South American camelids. The research has been independently peer-reviewed and will shortly be published in a respected scientific journal
1.
1 Clinical and Vaccine Immunology, journal of the American Society for Microbiology. The paper was accepted on 12th August 2012 and is now in press.
The diagnostic sensitivities (i.e. the proportion of truly infected animals correctly classified as positive reactors to these tests) were determined using alpacas with typical TB lesions identified at post-mortem examination. These animals had been culled from culture confirmed TB breakdown herds and, although visibly infected at post-mortem, they had given a negative result on one (or more) tuberculin skin tests.
The diagnostic specificities (i.e. the proportion of animals free from infection correctly classified as negative) of the blood tests were estimated by sampling presumed TB-free alpacas from volunteer herds in GB with no history of
M. bovis infections and situated in areas of low bovine TB incidence. A small number of serum samples from alpacas in TB-free herds in the US were also included in the study.
More details about diagnostic sensitivities and specificities for individual blood tests and combined tests can be found in the study report, which we understand is available on the BLS website.

What is Defra planning to do with the results of that study?
The AHVLA study highlighted that the TB antibody tests have a moderate sensitivity (around 70%), with a very high specificity (approximately 97%). This means that the probability of false positive results is very low (3 for every 100 animals tested in truly TB-free herds). The moderate sensitivity of the antibody tests, which in any case is higher than that of the skin test, can be enhanced in TB-breakdown situations by combining antibody tests using the same blood sample and removing all animals that react to any of the tests. Defra considers that these blood tests have been sufficiently validated in South American camelids under GB field conditions to substantially improve the detection of TB-infected animals that would escape detection by skin testing alone. Defra, therefore, intends in TB breakdown situations to deploy antibody testing in conjunction with the skin test in all cases of culture-confirmed
M. bovis TB infection in South American camelids. This will also extend to high-risk TB tracings from such herds.
Conversely, outside a TB breakdown situation (i.e. in holdings that are presumed to be TB-free) we can further reduce the already low probability of false-positive test results by combining two antibody tests and only regard as suspect those animals that prove positive to both tests. Moreover, in the future, where private TB testing prior to movement and/or export of camelids might identify ‘seropositive’ animals (i.e. a blood sample indicates the presence of antibodies consistent with
M. bovis infection), AHVLA’s response should be to put a herd under precautionary movement restrictions pending a blood re-test of those animals. The exact interval of the re-test has yet to be agreed, although our preference would be for 30 days. Only if the second blood test confirmed the initial positive result would AHVLA officially declare a TB breakdown on the affected premises and recommend the destruction of the persistently positive animals for post-mortem examination and culture.

How are results from camelids that have tested positive to a blood test but exhibited no visible lesions during post-mortem examination to be interpreted?
It is quite normal for animals (not just camelids) from known TB-infected herds to react to a highly specific diagnostic test for TB, but then show no evidence of TB at post mortem examination and laboratory culture. For instance, less than half of all the cattle slaughtered every year in GB as reactors to the tuberculin skin test have visible lesions of TB detected at post mortem. Furthermore, as a TB outbreak is brought under control, the proportion of test-positive but visible lesion/culture-negative animals inevitably tends to increase.
TB is usually a chronic, slowly progressing infectious disease and, unfortunately,
M. bovis is a notoriously difficult organism to grow in the laboratory from animal tissues and other material. Therefore, post mortem examination and laboratory culture are not very sensitive methods and cannot be regarded as the “gold standard” for diagnosis of TB infections. Moreover, animals removed from premises on which M. bovis was positively identified are, by definition, likely to have been exposed to the bacterium and quite possibly infected with TB. Therefore, such animals must not be considered ‘false positives’ and the failure to detect gross lesions in a TB-test positive animal from an infected herd does not mean that the animal was uninfected. A more plausible explanation would be that the test detected the infection at a very early stage, before visible lesions had time to develop and, crucially, before the test-positive animals became more infectious and capable of spreading the disease.

What about the skin test?
Broadly speaking, there are two types of tuberculin skin tests used for TB screening of animals, the comparative intradermal test (with avian and bovine tuberculins as for normal TB screening of cattle in the UK and Ireland) and the single intradermal test (with bovine tuberculin only). At the moment AHVLA will normally use the more specific comparative skin test in camelids, but in certain circumstances (e.g. in particularly severe TB breakdowns) it may use the single intradermal test in an effort to maximise the probability of detecting as many infected animals in a herd as possible.
There has been some misunderstanding about the purpose of the research. It was to develop new diagnostic tools to address the well documented low sensitivity of the skin test in camelids
2, and not to validate the single or comparative tuberculin skin tests or different combinations of the skin and blood tests.
2 Alvarez J, Bezos J, de Juan L, Vordermeier M, et al. (2011). Diagnosis of tuberculosis in camelids: old problems, current solutions and future challenges. Transboundary and Emerging Diseases, 59(1): 1-10.
The AHVLA research has shown that the sensitivity of the antibody tests may be dependent upon a so-called ‘anamnestic’ response following the injection of tuberculin. This phenomenon is not unique to camelids and has been observed when antibody tests for TB are used in other species. That is why in camelid TB breakdowns AHVLA will try to take blood samples for StatPak testing 10 to 30 days after a skin test. There is no evidence to show that this injection of tuberculin leads to a loss of specificity (more false positive reactions) in the subsequent antibody tests.

Can I test my animals for TB privately?
We have still to reach an agreement with the Scottish and Welsh Devolved Administrations on how to handle private TB testing of camelids, but for example in Wales this cannot be done without written agreement of Welsh Ministers. That statutory prohibition does not apply in England and, in principle, the tuberculin skin test is already available for private TB testing of camelids, cattle and other farmed animals subject to authorisation from the local AHVLA office and notification to them of all results without delay. In addition to that, pre-export skin testing of camelids is also of course a private matter between animal keepers and their own veterinary surgeons.
Generally, in order to reduce the risk of spreading disease it is good practice to screen camelids for TB before and/or after they are moved between different premises and Defra recommends that keepers seriously consider this option in consultation with their private veterinary surgeons.
However, as already mentioned, the skin test is insufficiently sensitive for reliable TB screening of individual camelids. A negative pre- or post-movement test result using only the skin test could be quite meaningless, particularly if the animal originated from a herd situated in an endemic TB area and/or with a history of confirmed TB infection.
Therefore, Defra is developing plans with AHVLA and the Devolved Administrations of GB to make two of the validated antibody tests available to camelid owners and their vets for private TB screening, either on their own or following a private skin test. Defra's strong policy preference is for the private TB blood testing of camelids to be carried out only by an AHVLA laboratory or in laboratories properly accredited by AHVLA to perform such tests. We are minded not to accept results of private TB tests from labs that do not meet these criteria and we may wish to reserve the right to re-test any such privately tested camelids.
Notwithstanding all the above, your members should note that where a group of camelids is under some form of movement restriction due to suspected (or confirmed) TB and undergoing skin or blood testing under the direction of AHVLA, additional private testing by the owner cannot be carried out to reassess (negate) any positive results of such tests. This is because re-testing of positive animals with tests that are only moderately sensitive would increase the risk of false-negative test results.

We hope this helps clarify some of the other statements circulating within the camelid community.





British Llama Society - a company limited by guarantee. Registered in England no. 04897204. Registered office: Mansion House, Princes Street, Yeovil, Somerset BA20 1EP.

Health & Welfare Bulletin No.37b : bTB - Badger Cull

bTB – BADGER CULL -
Your Society has backed the Government in its decision to go ahead with the badger cull. At the moment there are 2 areas highlighted, West Somerset and West Gloucestershire. If you have animals in either of these areas, we would ask you to support the cull by letting your nearest NFU office know. The culls will not take place until after the Olympic Games, i.e. Autumn time.
We must help to stop the spread of bTB.


LIZ BUTLER
Vice Chairman BLS & Health & Welfare Representative
Nutfield Park Farm, South Nutfield, REDHILL, Surrey Tel: 01737-823375

Health & Welfare Bulletin No.28 : Anti-TB Drugs


DEFRA advice to owners regarding the use of anti-TB drugs on camelids suspected of having TB

 Members are urged to take heed of the advice from DEFRA given below for the welfare of themselves, their own animals and the national alpaca herd.

DEFRA’s advice is that suspect clinical cases of TB should be notified to Animal Health and culled rather than treated with anti-TB drugs.

Owners need to be aware of the risks posed by treating suspect cases. Effective treatment of TB in humans is quite a complex, long and costly process involving a six-month course of at least three different drugs. To our knowledge, the effectiveness of such drugs and protocols has never been properly evaluated in South American camelids.

Assuming that an infected camelid will consistently receive the right dose of the appropriate drugs over a long enough period, it may remain infective to humans and other animals for some time.

Many treatment regimes, whilst seemingly capable of resolving the clinical signs of TB, will not result in a complete microbiological cure (elimination of all the bacilli) and may result in latent infections and potentially the development of drug resistance, resulting in serious public and animal health risks.

Additionally, owners need to be aware that by treating animals for TB they are jeopardising the only method of control currently available to infected herds (testing and slaughter of any positives) due to the suppressive effects the drugs may have on the immunological responses detected by the ante-mortem diagnostic tests. Animal Health may, therefore, be unable to undertake any TB testing of infected camelid herds if they become aware that owners are administering anti-TB drugs to some of their animals.


 
LIZ BUTLER

Vice Chairman BLS & Health & Welfare Representative


Health & Welfare Bulletin No.27 : TB Awareness meetings

H&W bulletin 27 24 Dec 09-1

Health & Welfare Bulletin No.24 : Bovine Tuberculosis

Dear BLS Member

Bovine TB is spreading out of control. Llamas are susceptible to bTB.

As many of you are aware there are an increasing number of llamas being found to have bovine TB. Although the mode of infection is as yet unknown, it is likely to be either llama to llama, cow to llama or badger to llama. This is very concerning especially as we, as an industry, do not have any workable systems in place to reduce the risk of infection.

TB is not caused by the owners lack of knowledge or by bad management. If you have infected animals you should not be embarrassed or ashamed. Our llamas and your fellow members need you to stand up and talk openly about your particular situation. This is the only way that others can become educated about the problem, how to handle it and what our rights are as llama owners.
What is needed from you

The BLS and the BAS have a meeting coming up shortly about bTB with the Government Minister in charge to put the camelid case to her. It would be very helpful if I could go knowing what it is that the members want.

I need your help to understand the extent of the problem. Unless those affected tell me who you are, I have no way of knowing how many of our members are affected. Your information will be treated in the strictest confidence, and will be known only to those on the board who are actively involved. As a relatively small industry we are much stronger when we talk as one. I can only do this if all those affected as well as those who may be in a hot spot come together and define what is required.

The first step is to let me know in the strictest confidence if you are affected. Please get in touch even if you think I already know.

You can email me: llamaliz@hotmail.com or call on 01737-823375. Once again, your information will be handled in confidence.

We, as representitives of the Camelid industry, can't go forward with this unless we know what you want. Those with infected herds know who you are. You have a duty to the greater livestock industry to eradicate bTB from your herds, to do this efficiently and effectively everyone needs to work together. Herds do recover from TB and there is light at the end of the tunnel. The future of llamas in the UK could be seriously damaged if we do not get to grips with this issue.
Thank you.
LIZ BUTLER
Vice Chairman BLS & Health & Welfare Representative
British Llama Society - a company limited by guarantee. Registered in England no. 04897204.
Registered office: Mansion House, Princes Street, Yeovil, Somerset BA20 1EP.