The announcement of a regionalised approach to eliminating bTB in Wales has been welcomed by the BVA.

Under the refreshed bTB Eradication Programme – announced on 18 October by rural affairs secretary Lesley Griffiths – low, intermediate and high TB areas will be established across Wales based on bTB incidence levels. Each area will have a tailored approach to reflect the varying disease conditions and risks.

Welsh cows
Each area of Wales will have a tailored approach to reflect the varying disease conditions and risks. Image: countrylens / fotolia.

The Welsh Government is also consulting on the measures to be applied to protect the low TB area and to reduce disease in the intermediate and high TB areas.

Individual action plans

Neil Paton, president of the BVA Welsh Branch, said: “We welcome this announcement and the Welsh Government’s commitment to tackling bTB.

“We are particularly heartened to see the focus on risk-based assessment and the targeting of chronically infected herds with individual action plans, to be developed in partnership with farmers, vets and the APHA.

“We also welcome the recognition of the role played by the wildlife reservoir of disease. However, we are concerned if badger culling by cage-trapping and shooting is not part of the refreshed eradication programme, there needs to be an evidence-based plan in place and other viable options must be proposed.

“The test and vaccinate or remove model being explored in Northern Ireland had previously been discounted in Wales after modelling suggested it was not a viable option. As vets, we are committed to working with the Welsh Government and Welsh farmers on a comprehensive strategy to control and eradicate this disease.”

‘Comprehensive programme’

BVA president Gudrun Ravetz said: “We have always argued bTB will only be eradicated through a comprehensive programme using all the tools available. We welcome such an approach in the Welsh Government’s refreshed eradication programme.

“We will continue to work with all UK governments to control and eradicate the disease where it is present and to prevent incursions in Scotland, which is officially TB-free.”

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