26 September 1997

Cattle TB increasing: West is the worst hit

THERE were 471 new cattle tuberculosis herd breakdowns in the UK in 1996, up 5% on the previous year, according to MAFFs annual badger report.

Almost 70% of the cases were in the western region, with 329 new confirmed breakdowns. And, of those cases, 80% were attributed to badgers. In the year MAFF carried out 253 badger investigations in the region. Officials removed 1855 badgers and confirmed TB in 25.5% of them.

The sharpest rise in cattle TB was seen in Herefordshire with 50 herds infected. MAFF groups Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire together in the report, with the three counties suffering a 48% increase in cattle TB in 1996 compared with the year before. Badger infection in the counties was found to be higher than average, with 55.2% of those tested confirmed to have the disease.

In Wales, there appeared to be an eastward drift of new outbreaks. In Dyfed there were 32 new confirmed outbreaks in 1996 compared with 54 in 1995. But, further east, Gwent recorded 60 new herd breakdowns – a rise of almost 54% on the year.