Dairy cows© Tim Scrivener

Five percent of cattle herds in Wales are suffering from a confirmed TB breakdown, according to the latest government figures.

In the first quarter of 2015, 94.97% of herds in Wales were officially TB free, compared with 93.52% in the first quarter of 2013.

The latest figures showed 677 farms (about 5%) have TB-infected herds in Wales – a 21-month high.

See also: Welsh tighten livestock disease surveillance network

The past two reporting periods have broken a 30-month continuous decline in the number of open TB incidents in Wales – from 822 at the beginning of 2012 to 546 in the third quarter of 2014.

Over the past two years, 31-32% of herds on Welsh cattle farms declared TB free following a breakdown have succumbed to TB again.

Commenting on the figures, Wales’ chief veterinary officer Christianne Glossop said: “We get the feeling that we are deluged with TB, but the figures are not as bad as we would imagine.

“We know we have got to reduce this 5% of herds.

“We need to do more – leading farmers, vets, [The Animal and Plant Health Agency] – we are all in this together.”

Online map

Dr Glossop was speaking at a preview launch of a new interactive online map of bovine TB disease levels in Wales.

The map, which will be officially launched later this autumn, aims to give farmers a clearer picture of disease levels in their area.

“We get the feeling that we are deluged with TB, but the figures are not as bad as we would imagine.”
Christianne Glossop, Wales’ chief veterinary officer

The Welsh government’s TB eradication programme includes a five-year badger vaccination project in the intensive action area in west Wales, compulsory annual testing of cattle, strict biosecurity measures and movement controls.

“I really want us to go away with that figure of 95% in our heads.

“We test every herd in Wales every 12 months.

“They do not do that in England,” stressed Dr Glossop.

“We must not collectively panic from one month when it’s worse than another.

“We need to ask the question behind the figures.

“We have got to deal with these herds one at a time and we have all got something to do to contribute towards that.”

The new map, which will be available on the Welsh government’s website, will give information on herd numbers, reactors, and new, closed and ongoing TB cases.

Locations of incidents will be recorded by herd and county.

Results will also be compared with previous years.

It was promised that the map would be updated every quarter to provide timely information and statistics on bovine TB in Wales, in a format that is easy to understand and aimed at a wide audience.

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