Disease spread could threaten Scots TB-free status, vets warn

Scotland’s “official TB-free” status could be put in jeopardy if the disease continues to creep north.

British Veterinary Association (BVA) president John Blackwell issued the warning at the organisation’s annual dinner in Edinburgh and said that Scotland should not be complacent about the risk from the South.

See also: Cull zone farm TB-free for first time in 11 years

“We can’t take our collective eye off the ball. We’re not yet at a stage where we are pushing back the advance in England or making inroads to reduce the size of the spread and farmers in Scotland are still regularly sourcing cattle from across the border,” Mr Blackwell said.

He added that vets across the UK had to work together to rid the country of the TB scourge.

And he assured his members that the BVA was ready to work with the UK’s four chief veterinary officers to lead the vanguard action against the disease.

Mr Blackwell added that the BVA had advised governments on a comprehensive strategy to defeat the disease.

“The expertise of BVA and its members was very much under the public spotlight in the discussion around the badger culls in England.

“This debate has been one of the most challenging for the BVA, internally and externally. We have a clear position on the pilot culls, which we will pursue with all relevant governments.”

At the dinner, which was attended by rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead, Mr Blackwell also called on the Scottish government to help address welfare issues related to the transport of the country’s production animals.

He said: “Cull sows should not have to be transported over 500 miles away for slaughter and I would again like to take this opportunity to ask the cabinet secretary to help build support for the building of a multi-species slaughter facility at Forfar to avoid this unnecessary and stressful transportation of animals at the end of their lives.”