Friday, 30 April 2010

You Have TB in your Herd – WHAT'S NEXT?

Dianne Summers offers help and some practical advice on dealing with TB

As soon as you suffer your first loss to TB, your entire herd is at risk. There are immediate measures you can take to reduce the risk of spread amongst your own herd/neighbouring livestock. Having lost one, there is a strong chance another of this group is infected.


1. Consider the group from which you suffered your first loss as potentially infected.

2. Do not move any of this group out nor move any of your other groups in with this group.

3. Ensure there is no nose-to-nose contact/spitting distance between your other groups/neighbouring livestock. If you cannot move this group to an isolation field you must install perimeter fencing/secondary fencing, including gateways, with at least a 10-foot gap.

4.Foot dips must be used when entering and leaving this field. DEFRA recommends FAM 30 (which kills TB) available from most farming suppliers – not only as a foot dip but for disinfecting stables, equipment,etc.

5.Use separate cleaning equipment for this field – never use it on other fields unless it has been disinfected. If you use a poo hoover, scrub the wheels down before entering other fields. The same applies to any tractors, etc, that have been in this field.

6.Clean water troughs daily. Make sure troughs are a minimum of 3 feet off the ground or in reach of cria.

7.Use as many hay racks a possible to eliminate any fighting/spitting over hay.

8.No hand feeding. You will pass potentially infected saliva from one to the other, let alone yourself.

9.Wear protective clothing and remove it before handling any of your other groups of animals.

10.Wear disposable gloves when handling this group, especially if you are handling the face/mouth area. Remember this is a zoonosis – it can pass to humans, so therefore keep children away and minimise the contact.

11.Try to feed in individual buckets and do not let animals go from bucket to bucket (see photograph). If you cannot do this due to the size of the group, allow plenty of feeding troughs and clean them out after feeding and tip upside down.

12.Monitor your herd daily and often closely. If any of this group or your other groups show any signs/symptoms, REMOVE THEM from this group immediately along with a mate for company, and seek veterinary advice. Do not return this animal to the group until you are certain it does not have TB or it has recovered from the illness. Often they show very subtle signs – get to know your herd. Monitor weight – breathing – feeding habits – lethargy – coughing – stiffness in getting up and kushing down – overall demeanour or any change in their normal behaviour.

13.Notify people if you have sold any of your herd to them or have had matings, etc, with this group as Animal Health/DEFRA may be in contact with them.

14.Animal Health/DEFRA will visit you and ask for all your movement records, so have them ready for your visit. They will discuss the procedures with you. Ask them for a copy of the current policy and procedures and get everything in writing.

15.Also Health Protection Agency (HPA) will contact you to discuss the risks to you and your family/staff and they may arrange X-rays and/or BCG skin tests on those in contact with your herd if they feel it necessary.

16.Your first skin test will be carried out either straightaway or 90 days after your first loss. If TB was evident on post-mortem it is strongly advisable that you request your first skin test is carried out as soon as possible rather than waiting 90 days. It is better to remove reactors as soon as possible. A lot can happen in 90 days.

17.You will need a small pen, approximately 4 feet wide by 5 feet deep or a crush. If you make a crush, ensure there is space for the Animal Health vet to get to the armpit If you can handle your animals, the procedure is not too stressful on your herd and you can simply halter the animal and hold it as you do when you carry out injections. However, if you can’t then you will need a crush, not only for your own safety but for that of your animals. You can ask your vet to sedate any animal you feel will be too difficult but you will have to pay for that. There are many homeopathy treatments that are very useful, eg, AAA/Valerian for stress – useful not only for your herd but for yourself.

18.You must isolate any reactors as it may take up to 10 days before Animal Health can arrange for removal. Those that fall into the 'watch' category must also be isolated. 'Watch' is simply those that have had a reaction but not met the current 2 mm measurement for a positive. You will be offered either euthanasia by injection or captive bolt. This will be carried out on-farm.

19.The animal/s will be removed afterwards and taken to the VLA for post mortem, also paid for by DEFRA.

20.If you do not cull your positives, you will not be allowed to undergo any further testing or receive compensation. You will therefore be under restriction until that animal either dies or you cull.

21.Once you have culled your reactor/s or if you suffer any further losses in your herd, the 90-day process begins all over again – so you have a test 90 days after your loss and then another test 90 days after that, providing no further losses have occurred.

22.You may be offered alternative under-trial blood tests. Consider these carefully before agreeing as you will be required to cull ALL positives. Speak to others in the Tb Support Group who have had blood tests done. The new Gamma Interferon is proving very promising indeed and is successful at helping remove infected alpacas from the herd. The Tb Support Group has data on both blood tests. Once again, get everything in writing

23.If your entire herd tests negative, do not think your herd is in the clear. A negative skin test does not mean your animals do not have TB. Continue to monitor as above.

24.If/when you become clear and restrictions are removed, it is highly recommended that you do not sell/show/move your herd anywhere for a minimum of 12 months because of the inaccuracy of the skin test and the risk of infecting other herds. Continue to use all the previous biosecurity measures throughout the quarantine period.

25.Finally – DO NOT go through this on your own. Contact Dianne Summers who not only has first hand experience of TB in her own herd but also heads the Camelid TB Support Group where fellow TB sufferers are in touch with each other and can share advice, symptoms and opinions and someone is always at the end of the phone 24 hours a day 7 days a week. The support is also emotional support, which you will need. Contact Dianne on 01209 822422 or 07949 511316. All data you provide will be treated as strictly private and confidential and will not even be passed on to the other members of the TB support group unless you are happy for this to be done. Dianne also has a direct line of communication with DEFRA/AH/VLA and can help with any problems you may be experiencing.

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