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'Science has not changed' after badger cull delay, say vets

By This is Somerset  |  Posted: October 23, 2012

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The president of the British Veterinary Association says he hopes today's decision to delay badger cull plans for parts of Somerset and Gloucestershire does not reflect a change in Government policy.

Peter Jones said delaying the cull until next year "could make sense" and that "the science has not changed".

“Although this news will be a severe blow to the vets and farmers who are battling against bovine TB on a daily basis, we need to wait for the Secretary of State’s statement to hear the reasons behind any delay, and we very much hope this will not reflect a change in policy," said Mr Jones.

“As we get later in the season we must recognise that it becomes less likely for a cull to be delivered effectively and so it could make sense to delay until next year.

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“It is important to note that the speculation is that the cull is being delayed due to questions surrounding the logistics of delivery. The science has not changed.

“Scientists agree that culling badgers does reduce the levels of infection in cattle herds, and we know that no country has dealt with bovine TB without tackling the disease in wildlife."

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  • Charlespk  |  October 24 2012, 1:02PM

    I wish people would stop posting about a subject they haven't got the first ideas about and stop insulting highly qualified veterinary surgeons. In time of War or the like, your veterinary surgeon is qualified to treat the human population. . Your GP is not qualified to treat any animals. Astrophysicists don't know the first thing about medicine or veterinary science.

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  • Syrrets  |  October 24 2012, 12:50PM

    I wish the veterinary establishment would drag itself into the 21st century and stop being puppets of the farming industry. Thankfully there are plenty of forward-thinking enlightened vets around who are opposed to the badger cull. But Peter Jones is correct on one thing, "The science has not changed." - it still suggests that in terms of eliminating bTB in cattle, killing badgers is a futile and cruel waste of time and money.

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  • Charlespk  |  October 24 2012, 10:38AM

    It would be greatly appreciated by all farmers if people would try to become educated to the problem before they make any emotional judgement or comment. Why BCG does not perform like other Vaccines. "In any normal infection the body defence works by production of vast amounts of antibodies. Such antibodies can also be stimulated by ordinary vaccines for all kinds of bacteria and virus diseases and they can be traced in blood which makes diagnosis with various techniques fairly easy. But this does not work for Tuberculosis - it never did and it never will do - because the tubercle bacteria have a waxy coat to which antibodies cannot attach. Tuberculosis therefore causes a so called humoral body defence; that means the very slowly multiplying bacteria are attacked by enzymes and white blood cells mainly. These are killing or even digesting the bacteria by a method called phagocytosis resulting in crumbly pus in the so called tubercles - whole heaps or lumps containing several 1000 to billions of bacteria. This defence is much more unspecific and slower than the usual one by antibodies. Any BCG vaccine stimulates this humoral defence only but never prevents an infection; it may keep it on a low scale maybe. There is no other vaccine available and there most probably will never be another one. No matter how many millions more DEFRA invests (I hear of some 30 so far for the Vaccine only) this is nature - which cannot be forced by politics." . . . . . . . . . . Dr Ueli Zellweger MRCVS GST TVL Somerset Dr Ueli Zellweger who is highly respected is a veterinary surgeon with over 30 years experience mainly with cattle and is considered a world expert in this field. Again quote:- "But this does not work for Tuberculosis - it never did and it never will do." "But this does not work for Tuberculosis - it never did and it never will do." "But this does not work for Tuberculosis - it never did and it never will do."

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  • Clued-Up  |  October 24 2012, 10:35AM

    Peter Jones presents a misleading picture of what the science says. The UK's most eminent scientists and veterinarians working on the control of animal diseases say a badger cull will at best remove 12% - 16% cattle bTB disease -leaving c.85% untouched - and may even spread the disease. That's after nearly wiping out local badger populations in 4 years slaughter.

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  • Clued-Up  |  October 24 2012, 10:30AM

    Peter Jones is presenting a misleading picture of what the science says. What the UK's most eminent scientists and vets working in animal disease control say is that a badger cull will not reduce bTB by more than an infinitesmally small amount (12% - 16% disease reduction after nearly wiping out the entire badger populations over 9 years of slaughter) and may actually spread the disease. Many vets and the RSPCA have pointed out that the main killing method (free shooting) will cause enormous suffering as many badgers will be shot in the shoulder (not the heart) and die slow and agonising deaths.

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  • Charlespk  |  October 24 2012, 10:10AM

    It would be greatly appreciated by all farmers if people would try to become educated to the problem before they make any emotional judgement or comment. Why BCG does not perform like other Vaccines. "In any normal infection the body defence works by production of vast amounts of antibodies. Such antibodies can also be stimulated by ordinary vaccines for all kinds of bacteria and virus diseases and they can be traced in blood which makes diagnosis with various techniques fairly easy. But this does not work for Tuberculosis - it never did and it never will do - because the tubercle bacteria have a waxy coat to which antibodies cannot attach. Tuberculosis therefore causes a so called humoral body defence; that means the very slowly multiplying bacteria are attacked by enzymes and white blood cells mainly. These are killing or even digesting the bacteria by a method called phagocytosis resulting in crumbly pus in the so called tubercles - whole heaps or lumps containing several 1000 to billions of bacteria. This defence is much more unspecific and slower than the usual one by antibodies. Any BCG vaccine stimulates this humoral defence only but never prevents an infection; it may keep it on a low scale maybe. There is no other vaccine available and there most probably will never be another one. No matter how many millions more DEFRA invests (I hear of some 30 so far for the Vaccine only) this is nature - which cannot be forced by politics." . . . . . . . . . . Dr Ueli Zellweger MRCVS GST TVL Somerset Dr Ueli Zellweger who is highly respected is a veterinary surgeon with over 30 years experience mainly with cattle and is considered a world expert in this field. Again quote:- "But this does not work for Tuberculosis - it never did and it never will do." "But this does not work for Tuberculosis - it never did and it never will do." "But this does not work for Tuberculosis - it never did and it never will do."

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