Experts from around the world have gathered in Wales for the first day of a four-day international conference on bovine TB.
Wales’ chief vet Dr Christianne Glossop, who supported the British Cattle Veterinary Association’s bid to bring the International Mycobacterium bovis conference to Cardiff from 16 June, said the event would provide an opportunity to highlight to the non-farming community the issue of bovine TB.
“This debate has to move on from the binary portrayal of farmers versus animal rights activists. Bovine TB is a problem that affects everyone and given the social, emotional and financial impact of the disease, it is vital that we all work together in co-operation to ensure its eradication,’’ she said.
Speakers include scientific experts and delegates from across the world, including Australia, New Zealand and Ethiopia. They will share their knowledge on TB epidemiology, vaccination and wildlife policy.
The conference comes at a time when the level of bovine TB in Wales has fallen significantly. New incidents are down by nearly a quarter on the previous year.
The latest available Welsh government figures show that between December 2012 and November 2013 there were 880 new herd incidents compared to 1,145 in the previous year. In the same period the number of cattle slaughtered for bovine TB control also reduced from 9,364 to 6,275 – a reduction of 33%.
Wales’ farm minister Alun Davies said bovine TB had been at the top of the Welsh government’s agenda for 10 years. Despite the improvement in the situation in Wales, he insisted that the government was not “resting on its laurels.’’
“As well as providing an opportunity for us share our programme with international experts, the conference will enable us to learn from other countries that have had real success in dealing with this disease,’’ he said.