TB down 6% in ‘new herd incidents’

The headline herd incidence rate and herd prevalence for TB decreased slightly in England last year, new statistics have revealed. But there is better news for East Devon farmers.

Defra says the total number of animals slaughtered due to a TB in England was 32,923 – one per cent less than in 2017.

However, new herd incidents and non-OTF herds were down six per cent in high risk areas, which include the whole of the South West.

Defra points out: “Short term changes in these statistics should be considered in the context of long-term trends.”

Rates, published earlier this month, are based on the total amount of time that herds tested were unrestricted and at risk of infection since the end of their last TB incident or negative herd test. This is rather than the total number of tests carried out on those herds.

During the 12 month period, there were 34 OTFW incidents compared to 50 during 2017.

In relation to the South West, Defra said: “In the High Risk Area of the West Midlands and South West of England, the incidence and prevalence of infected cattle have increased steadily to relatively high levels. This is partly a result of a reservoir of endemic M. bovis infection in the local wildlife. There is evidence of a slowing down in both the incidence and prevalence rates since around 2012.”

Bespoke tracing tests of individual animals are no longer performed in England if a whole-herd (or similar) test is already due in the herd of destination within 60 days of the tracing test date, and in Wales if the tracing test is due within the existing herd test window.

Combining multiple tracing tests for a herd where the traced cattle originate from more than one holding and where test deadlines are within a one month period. Such tests were previously counted separately.

TB tracing tests are included in the “Herd tests” and the “Total cattle tests” measures and these changes are thought to account for much of the decrease in the herd test measures.

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