Saturday, 9 October 2010

New Website

We have been sent the following press release regarding a new website dedicated to TB in alpacas.

New Website bTB in Alpacas and llamas (Camelids)

Dianne Summers, Dr Gina Bromage, and recently resigned B.A.S. Chair Mike Birch have developed a new website dedicated to the subject of bTB in Camelids.

The purpose of the website is two-fold – first and foremost is to help camelid herds who come down to Tb and secondly to educate camelid owners on the serious issue of bTB with the hope it will reduce the risk of it happening to them.

Prior to its release we have sent the Website to:

1. All the members of the TB Support Group (Owners who have been or are currently under restriction and that are members of the Group) Not all camelid owners who have been affected by Tb join the Group.

We wanted to make sure the members of the TB Support group were happy with the content because after all it is their data that they have kindly provided that has produced many of the documents on the site.

2. To a small selection of the TB Update Group (Alpaca owners/vets/etc who want to learn everything they can on TB in camelids)

3. Our contacts at DEFRA, VLA and Animal Health who work closely with the Camelid TB Support group.

We wanted to make sure DEFRA VLA AH were also happy with its content and we needed them to verify we hadn’t given out any wrong information.

We asked for feedback comments and suggestions from all 3 groups and set them a deadline of Wednesday October 6th. We then made changes accordingly.

We did not get one negative feedback. All feedback was positive and constructive.

Without exception, all supported the new website – all agreed it was highly informative and contained a wealth of information all in one place.

We hope you feel the same.

Please email the website link to anyone you know who owns, or has an interest in camelids, and ask them to do the same. Information and knowledge is our best weapon at present.

We have asked that the B.A.S. British Alpaca Society and B.L.S. British llama Society inform all their members about the website by email and put a link to it on their respective websites.

All updates from now on will be on the website so please check the website often for up to date news and information.

Kindest Regards

Dianne Summers – Gina Bromage and Mike Birch
email :

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Wales To Push Ahead With Badger Cull

The following article is from Farmers Guardian. The article can be found here

Wales to push ahead with badger cull
20 September 2010 By Alistair Driver

THE Welsh assembly Government is to push ahead with plans for a badger cull, Welsh Rural Affairs Minister, Elin Jones has announced.

She is publishing a new draft Order that will pave the way for a cull over five years in west Wales. The new Order has been drafted to overcome the flaws that saw the original Tuberculosis Eradication (Wales) Order 2009, which would have permitted culling to begin this summer, thrown out in July after the Court of Appeal ruled it was unlawful.

While the original Order applied to the whole of Wales, the new draft order is specific to the proposed Intensive Action Area, covering north Pembrokeshire and including areas of Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire. This part of Wales has one of the highest bovine TB rates in Europe.

WAG has also increased its estimate of the likely benefits of a cull. It said it expected to have reduced bovine TB in cattle in the area by approximately 22 per cent, preventing an estimated 83 confirmed herd breakdowns that would otherwise have occurred.

It stressed that was a ‘conservative estimate’. The additional surveillance and controls on cattle that the Assembly Government has already put in place in the Intensive Action Area are designed to generate further reductions, Ms Jones said.

There are 321 cattle farms in the Intensive Action Area and nearly 70 per cent of them have been affected by bovine TB in the past seven years. Under the proposals, there would be an annual cull of badgers over a five year period.

The Assembly Government’s ‘comprehensive package’ also includes enhanced cattle surveillance and controls, as well as improved biosecurity on farms.

Announcing the development on a farm: Rural Affairs Minister, Elin Jones said: “I remain committed to tackling the bovine TB crisis in Wales. It is a situation that I cannot and will not allow to continue.

“I will state again that the cost of this disease in the last ten years, when nearly 100,000 cattle have been slaughtered in Wales, is more than £120 million. This is tax payer’s money the Assembly Government has paid out to farmers in compensation.

“Most experts agree that badgers play an important role in the transmission of bovine TB and that we will not eradicate TB if we do not tackle the disease in both wildlife and cattle.”

She added that the evidence shows, through a number of trials that reducing the numbers of badgers in TB endemic areas can reduce TB in cattle.

Ms Jones said: “Our critics claim that vaccination of badgers is the answer. Vaccination of badgers has not yet been proved to reduce cattle TB and does not cure badgers that already have TB. It does not provide complete protection; rather it reduces the progress of the disease in a vaccinated badger, and the risk of onward spread of infection to other badgers and cattle. Vaccination cannot resolve this problem on its own.

“I am satisfied that in the Intensive Action Area there is no reasonably practicable or satisfactory alternative to culling badgers as a means of reducing TB in cattle. This is because it is the only proven method currently available to me.”

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Badger Cull Proposal

This is a report from earlier in the week.

Badger cull: Government plans will allow farmers to shoot badgers

15 September 2010 By Alistair Driver

FARMERS in TB hotspot areas of England will be permitted to shoot badgers on their land, under plans unveiled by Farming Minister Jim Paice this morning.
Mr Paice has published a three-month consultation on Government proposals to permit the licensed culling of badgers in England, possibly from next May.
Under the proposals, groups of farmers and landowners will come together in areas covering at least to apply collectively for licences to cull badgers on their land.
Two culling methods will be permitted, cage trapping and shooting and shooting free running badgers . The licence will also allow for badgers to be vaccinated in the designated area.
Farmers will cover the entire cost of the badger controls, with Defra's financial contribution limited to issuing the licences through Natural England and monitoring activities on the ground.
The decision to potentially allow free shooting is therefore highly significant as it represents a more affordable option for farmers who, as long as they possess the appropriate firearms licence, would be entitled to do it themselves.
To deploy cage traps, farmers would either have to be specially trained or rely on the services of trained contractors.
Free shooting was not used in the 10-year Randomised Badger Culling Trials (RBCT), which exclusively deployed cage trapping and shooting. This proved to be expensive, however, due to the cost of the cages, exacerbated by regular vandalism, and the manpower required.
Gassing and snaring have both been ruled out as options by Defra on animal welfare grounds.
Under the proposals, badger control licences would be subject to strict criteria to ensure, Mr Paice said, that measures are carried out effectively, humanely and with high regard to animal welfare (click here to see the licence criteria).
The earliest that culling could begin where licences have been approved is next May, when the closed season for badger culling ends.
The three-month consultation closes on December 8. Mr Paice is planning to announce a final decision on the badger culling policy next spring as part of a comprehensive and balanced bTB eradication programme.
He also announced today some changes to cattle measures, including greater use of gamma interferon blood testing and an extension of two-year testing areas to provide a greater buffer between hotspots and clean areas. He confirmed that pre-movement testing will remain in place, following a review.
But he insisted that it require more than cattle controls to tackle bTB.
"Bovine TB is having a devastating effect on many farm businesses and families, he said. The situation is steadily getting worse the number of animals slaughtered each year is unacceptable and more farms are affected as the disease spreads across the country.
We cannot go on like this. It is clear the current approach has failed to stop the spread of this terrible disease. We need to take urgent action to halt its spread.
There is no single solution to tackling bovine TB. Cattle measures will remain the foundation of our bovine TB control programme but we will not succeed in eliminating the disease in cattle unless we also tackle the disease in badgers.
The science is clear, there is no doubt that badgers are a reservoir of the disease and transmit bovine TB to cattle. No other country in the world with a similar reservoir in wildlife has eradicated TB from cattle without stringent wildlife control measures. in eliminating the disease in cattle unless we also tackle the disease in badgers."

While vaccination will be an option under the proposals, Mr Paice said veterinary advice and available scientific evidence suggested that on its own it would not reduce disease as quickly culling.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

PCR - Could this be a way forward for detecting TB in Alpacas

UK scientists devise one-hour test for TB

This story originally appeared on BBC News.

Click here to view.

By Neil Bowdler Science reporter, BBC News Scientists in the UK say they have devised a new ultra-sensitive test which can diagnose the presence of the tuberculosis bacterium in one hour

The test has been developed by the Health Protection Agency (HPA). Its developers claim the test can spot all strains of the disease and could reduce both the incidence and the consequences of the disease worldwide.

According to the World Health Organization, in 2008, an estimated 1.3 million people died from TB worldwide.

Genetic signature

The standard identification test for TB involves taking mucus coughed up from the lungs and
growing a bacterial culture in the laboratory. But it can take up to eight weeks to reach a diagnosis, by which time the individual might have infected many more people.

Other more rapid tests exist which scan for an antigen found in many TB strains, but they
may not detect all infections, say the HPA.

The new test focuses on a particular DNA region within the bacterium which the researchers
says is present in all strains of the disease.

Once a sample is taken, a scientific technique know as a "polymerase chain reaction" is
used to amplify the volume of DNA available so that the genetic signature can be identified.
In the UK, around 9,000 cases of TB are reported each year, mainly in big cities like London .

Source: World Health Organization/HPA

This is a new test, says the HPA's Dr Cath Arnold, who led the study. "We're looking for a genetic marker which is present in all strains of TB we've seen so far. We're confident that it will pick up very small amounts and tests so far have show that it seems to be as sensitive as the gold standard of using culture, but there are various aspects which we need to develop further before we can offer it as an off-the-shelf product."

Details of the work are being presented at the HPA's annual conference at the University of

The HPA test comes just weeks after details of a rival project were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The rival test is called Xpert MTB/RIF and its developers claim it can deliver a diagnosis in under two hours. They say their automated cartridge machine can also identify resistance to drugs used to treat TB.

The diagnoses of TB is extremely difficult today. If you had a test which rapidly and at the point of care could detect TB immediately you would gain weeks or months in treating that person and avoid them going around for another five to eight weeks infecting others.

The WHO estimates that a third of the world's population carry TB bacteria. Only 5-10% of
people who are infected become sick or infectious at some time during their life.

People with HIV and who carry TB bacteria are much more likely to develop the disease.

Recent years have seen a resurgence in TB infections in developed countries, and have seen
the rise of strains resistant to medication.

Last year in the UK, the number of cases rose by more than 5% to 9,153, according to
provisional figures from the HPA. More than a third of the cases were in London.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Survey on Alpacas

We have been asked to put the following letter and Survey on the blog. Ysella Wood is a Nottingham University student and her letter is self-explanatory. It can be found here and in the useful links under "Alpaca Questionnaire"

She had asked the B.A.S. if they would kindly email her survey to all its members. She also told B.A S. that she would give them the results of the survey. B.A.S. declined to send it out stating:

Dear Ysella Wood

Further to your request of 21st July for the BAS to circulate your 'research questionnaire'. My apologies for the prolonged delay. Your request was discussed at the board meeting held this week. The board were of the opinion that they had sent out rather a lot of 'research questionnaires'recently and did not wish to over burden the membership with another at this time.

I regret therefore that we are not able to circulate this for you.

One would think the B.A.S. would welcome this study which is being carried out independently at no cost to the B.A.S and surely the B.A.S would benefit to find out how the members feel. This would have taken no time at all to send out by email to the members - same time as it takes to send out emails about shows.

Ysella had to resort to posting her survey just to members in the South West but we can appreciate this is very costly and her student budget couldn't stretch to posting her survey to the entire country.

We are glad to help and we urge everyone to download the survey and either email or post it back to Ysella. The summary of her findings will be posted on this blog in the future.

We wish you luck Ysella and sorry the B.A.S. Board didn't help.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

PRESS RELEASE Let's hope England follow suit

A copy of the consultation paper can be found here.

Welsh Assembly Government consults on TB in camelids, goats and deer

As part of the Welsh Assembly Government’s Bovine TB Eradication programme, the Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones has launched a consultation on a draft legislative order to control TB in camelids, goats and deer.
For the purposes of the draft legislation, camelids are defined as alpacas, guanacos, llamas and vicunas.
Elin Jones said:
“Camelids, goats and deer as well as cattle and badgers are susceptible to catching and spreading TB. Our aim is to eradicate Bovine TB from Wales and we are committed to tackling all sources of infection, in both domesticated animals and wildlife, to do that.
“This is why we have developed a strategy for dealing with camelids, goats and deer.
”We have taken decisive action to tackle the disease in cattle, through increased testing, stricter controls on cattle movements, tightening up of policies and a zero tolerance approach to enforcement and promoting better biosecurity.
“This draft order aims to put the prevention and management of incidents of Bovine TB in camelids, goats and deer on a similar footing to the arrangements already in place for cattle. It would introduce controls to prevent the spread of disease and for compensation when these animals are slaughtered due to Bovine TB.
“However, following a consultation in 2008 we concluded that there was no need to introduce a regular Bovine TB testing regime or a requirement for TB Pre-Movement Testing for camelids, goats or deer.”
The Welsh Assembly Government introduced legislation in 2008 that created specific powers for inspectors to enter land and to obtain a warrant for the purposes of testing non-bovine animals for disease.
In 2009 a Welsh Assembly Government consultation on camelids resulted in a much greater understanding of the issues TB raises for camelid keepers. Since then Welsh Assembly Government officials have also engaged with stakeholders in the goat and deer industry in Wales in order to come up with proposals that it is hoped will be welcomed as a positive step forward in tackling the disease in these animals.
The Minister added:
“Bovine TB advances quickly in infected camelids. They show very little in the way of physical signs before it reaches an advanced stage and it causes a painful death. This is distressing for owners and for the animal. Bovine TB is a horrible disease, which is why we are committed to eradicating it from Wales.”
The consultation on the draft order runs for 12 weeks. The consultation document and information on how to respond is available on the Welsh Assembly Government website at

For more information, please call 0800 528 3300
For further information about the Bovine TB eradication programme, including the Bovine TB Eradication Programme Annual Report 2009 – 2010, visit the Welsh Assembly Government website:

Friday, 20 August 2010

TB Update August 2010

Here is the latest update on TB from Dianne Summers.

Firstly it would be a total injustice if I didn’t start this update with a huge thank you to Mike Birch who sadly resigned from the BAS Board in early August... To say Mike Birch was pro active on the TB front would be an understatement and we have so much to thank him for. I cannot tell you the number of hours Mike dedicated to the issue and he certainly was the driving force behind the TB Awareness meetings and keeping the members informed in his Chairman’s reports in the BAS magazine. He kept in constant contact with me and was always at the end of the phone if we needed help. He always wanted to be kept up to date on the data we gather from the Support group and prior to every Board meeting he asked me for an update on the current losses number of herds under restriction etc– which I always gave him. Mike and I worked closely together on the TB issue and that contact certainly helped me because believe it or not although I run the support group I too need support from time to time and he always managed to make me smile on days when things got very tough. So Mike a huge thank you from me and the TB Support Group and we wish you well. You will be missed. I hope whoever takes your place will follow your example of what a Chair should be and the Board continue to be pro-active on the Tb front for all our sakes.

Current Figures

According to DEFRA as of August 15th 2010 there are now currently approximately 35 herds under Tb movement restrictions and several others awaiting confirmation by culture. This figure as you know can change on a weekly basis as new herds come under restriction and others come out of restriction. In July 2009 only 11 herds were under restriction so in one year the figure has trebled. If this pattern continues potentially 100 herds could be under restriction this time next year.

In the TB Support Group we have a further 14 herds (myself included) that have been under restriction and are now clear. Therefore a minimum of 49 herds have been affected. Sadly as one of my group come out of restriction another comes on. Those in touch with the TB Support group have suffered 155 losses between 1st Jan 2010 and 1st August 2010 so our small group has already exceeded the number of losses for last year. Please understand not all herds under restriction are in touch with the support group - therefore I have no idea of the total losses from the other herds.

The problem isn’t going away nor is it getting better. Herds have been affected not only by direct local wildlife but by way of purchase or agisted mating and sadly lots of alpacas on long term agistment have fallen to TB. When Tb is confirmed in a herd – every animal on that farm at the time no matter who owns it or whether it is on a short term stay is put under restriction and will be included in the testing process. Think long and hard before you send your animals away for any reason-even short term.

If you are misfortunate to come down to Tb you must notify all your forward and back contacts as soon as you know you have Tb in your herd. You must be honest with Animal Health when they contact you and they ask for your movement records. Sadly some breeders are not doing this and Animal Health are finding breakdowns linked by strain type to herds where Tb was confirmed and the breeder hadn’t told Animal health nor the contacts. This is unacceptable. Defra and Animal health hands are tied – they have no legal powers to insist on movement records they are totally reliant on the honesty of the herd owners. Failure to not comply with Animal Health is a breach of the BAS Code of Conduct section 5 which clearly states. “Owners should fully co-operate with Animal Health and facilitate testing and provide accurate movement records when requested”.

The problem is:

In the case of at least one commercial herd with a serious bTB problem, by not giving their full movement records to Animal Health and also not contacting their clients who had purchased from them or had agisted matings etc., Animal Health wasn’t able to contact these people and offer testing. The herds also remained totally unaware that they had brought TB into their herds until they suffered their first loss, and were therefore unable to take the necessary measures on their own farms to minimise the spread. These people then sadly end up in the TB Support Group. There are likely to be others who have yet to find they have purchased the problem with their new herd, purchase or matings.

Owing to the scale of this, it is inevitable that this is going to come out in the public domain and sadly as always the decent honest and responsible herds that are under restriction are going to be tarred with the same brush as those that are not. The BAS board have been notified of this last weekend, and are aware it is happening and who is doing it. If you are concerned please contact the Directors of B.A.S. There email addresses and phone numbers are on the BAS website.

I am pleased to say that the breeder in question is NOT a member of the TB Support Group.

Lastly we are developing a website ( dedicated to Tb in Camelids which hopefully will be up and running soon. The site will feature everything you need to know on the subject and will become a one stop shop so to speak for up to date Tb information and advice.

If you are under restriction please contact either myself Dianne Summers on 01209 822422 or Dr Gina Bromage on your name or County will never be released not even to the other members of the Support Group without your permission.