Despite a reduction in the number of cattle slaughtered in Wales in 2010, rural affairs minister Elin Jones has announced there will be no let-up in the Welsh Bovine TB Eradication Programme.

Welsh rural affairs minister Elin Jones has welcomed the recent monthly bovine TB statistics which show a reduction in the number of cattle slaughtered in Wales in 2010, but said there would be no let-up in the Welsh Assembly Government’s TB Eradication Programme.

Statistics must be used and interpreted with care and the TB statistics need to be analysed over time to observe a trend.The national statistics show that for the first 10 months of 2010:

  • The Welsh Assembly Government tested just under 1.6 million cattle, which is approximately 3% more than for the same period in 2009;
  • Approximately 12% of cattle herds had been under restriction at some point during the period due to a TB incident which is 2% points lower than for the same period in 2009.
  • 6,587 cattle were slaughtered which is 28% less than for the same period in 2009;
  • The reduction in new incidents in 2010 is 14% compared to 2009.

The minister said: “While any reduction in the TB statistics is welcome, it would be premature to suggest a turning point has been reached in Wales, based on the available data, particularly whilst the GB trend is very similar.

Wales' rural affairs minister Elin Jones“Statistics must be used and interpreted with care and the TB statistics need to be analysed over time to observe a trend. TB is a long term epidemic and historically the trend has been upwards. We have seen short term falls before – for example in 2004 and 2006.”

Since the start of the Bovine TB Eradication Programme in 2008, the Welsh Assembly Government has adopted a comprehensive approach to tackling bTB in Wales. A package of measures has been put in place to deal with the disease, including:

•  Stricter rules on pre-movement testing of cattle; and
•  Linking compensation to best practice and compliance with the testing regime.

Mrs Jones added: “As much as we would like to take credit for the recent decrease observed in the Welsh TB statistics, it is far too early to say what difference the stricter cattle controls, increased testing and our zero tolerance approach to not complying with regulations are making.

“We anticipate these measures having a positive impact on the levels of bovine TB, however, we are clear that we will not eradicate this disease while there is a reservoir of infection present in TB endemic areas. This is why we are continuing to pursue a comprehensive package of measures.”

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