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Badgers vaccinated against bovine TB

By West Briton  |  Posted: September 05, 2013

  • In full protective clothing, Kathryn Driscoll prepares to mark the badger after vaccination. by Bob Speechley

Comments (9)

VOLUNTEERS keen to stop a controversial badger cull are carrying out TB vaccinations around west Cornwall.

Licensed volunteers this week trapped and vaccinated seven badgers against the disease at a horse sanctuary near Pendeen.

The animals have been blamed for spreading bovine tuberculosis in cows, devastating farmers' herds and livelihoods.

The Government has launched "pilot" badger culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire, where marksmen will lay bait and shoot them.

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Farmers are split on the move but many animal-lovers, landowners, scientists and politicians have spoken against culling, including MP Andrew George. Nearly 200,000 people have signed a petition against the cull.

Mr George last week revealed that the Government had granted funds to start a trial vaccination project in Penwith overseen by the Zoological Society of London.

The idea is that a cull could not be carried out in the same area.

But a separate vaccination programme has been running for three years through Cornwall Badger Rescue.

Trained, qualified and licensed "lay vaccinators" have been offering cut-price badger vaccination to landowners to reduce the impact on farmers and protect the creatures.

Cornwall Badger Rescue's Bob Speechley said his group had vaccinated 26 animals this year.

This week they were at Liz Jupe's Broomfield Sanctuary.

She said: "We have farm land all around us; it will help the farmers, their cattle and the badgers. You feel so helpless [when a farmer loses cattle to TB] and this is something you can do."

The process involves setting humane traps at night and then injecting them at dawn.

Ms Jupe said: "In a cull you could shoot a healthy badger and any you don't shoot will move territory and infect other badgers if they have TB."

Sennen ecologist Kathryn Driscoll, who recently became an Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency-registered (AHVLA) vaccinator, injected the badgers at Broomfield.

She said: "We only need to capture and vaccinate 70 per cent of the sett to bring down levels and in four years eradicate TB from the sett.

"Badger vaccine costs £20 per badger and that's all the cost involved.

"We hope to work with Andrew George and Rosie Woodruff from Penzance, who was the government adviser during the last badger cull, but we are keen to encourage landowners to take up our offer now."

Visit www.cornwall-badger-rescue.co.uk/ for more details.

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  • Charlespk  |  September 06 2013, 3:43PM

    @Clued-up Once again! . It has been proven CONCLUSIVELY by spoligotype and VNTR profiling that the strain of Mycobacterium bovis Diane Summers contacted was the same her herds contracted from the local badger population. Your ignorance of this subject, and your continual spreading of misinformation is now bordering on the criminal. "On May 11th I was informed by my consultant that the spoligotype was the same as my herd from 2009. I had not helped any other herd with the same strain type as myself so at least we now know it was from my breakdown back in 2008/09. As stated earlier I had lost 8 only 6 of these had visible lesions and I took all the necessary precautions once I knew I had TB. We have many many owners who have lost far more infected alpacas then I have so the risk to them/us is huge and let's not forget Vets and Shearers who are constantly exposed to risk ."

  • Charlespk  |  September 06 2013, 3:21PM

    Badgerists like Clued-up, constantly putting out their misinformation, have been responsible for the deaths more cattle, and the miserable deaths of wildlife over 20 years, than Assad has human beings in Syria. The Merck Veterinary Manual covering all aspects of Vet Medicine worldwide comments: "The BCG vaccine, sometimes used to control TB in man, has proved to be poor at protecting most animal species, and inoculation often provokes a severe local granulomatous reaction." This is likely to be a quite hurtful process and the vaccination site itself might well end up as an abscess. As seen in trials, one cannot trap more than 60% of all badgers roaming around. Therefore if 60 out of 100 badgers are vaccinated with a vaccine which is only efficient to a maximum of 50 - 80% ( in healthy animals! ) you end up with far less than 50 badgers with a rather dubious protection. It is well known and common practice that if you do not succeed to vaccinate up to 95% of all animals of a target species, the long term positive effects in an area are likely to be pretty close to zero. Will all badgerists please get an education. . The 91 year old and failing BCG vaccine is now only really useful for young children and their are populations in the Third World in desperate need of it whist you waste it on badgers without even testing them. A veterinary NoNo! . Please stop making fools of yourselves and START LEARNING! http://tinyurl.com/83xps4g (open in a new window) It has been proven CONCLUSIVELY by spoligotype and VNTR profiling that the strain of Mycobacterium bovis Diane Summers contacted was the same as in the local badger population.

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  • mmjames  |  September 06 2013, 3:16PM

    Clued-Up Friday, September 06 2013, 3:06PM You are mixing up 2 websites [again], I wonder how much other info you mix up to suit yourself? If BCG didn't protect Dianne Summers from the spoligotype in her locality then it won't protect those who faff about with zTB carrying badgers or their carcases......... and that includes those jabbing them with needles.

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  • Clued-Up  |  September 06 2013, 3:06PM

    @ mmjames Friday, September 06 2013, 11:51AM . "3.Vaccination confers immunity for however long the vaccine works. ............ IF BCG worked that is, which is does NOT.... not even for humans. Dianne Summers was BCG vaccinated." Dianne caught the disease from her alpacas sneezing or spitting at her. Neither of us know whether the TB variant she caught from the alpacas (South American animals) is similar enough to human TB for her BCG to have provided her with any protection against it. I don't know how long the TB protection from BCG lasts but think it's not a lifelong protection for human beings. The badgers are being vaccinated every year. As already said, a 4 year programme of vaccinations can be expected to wipe out badger TB in that territory. The web site I slated defies all web conventions and is suspect for that reason. The web site doesn't say who runs it and doesn't provide contact details ('phone, email address or postal address) for the webmaster. There is a form (with no details on it) that one can use to get in touch - allowing whoever receives that form to collect the sender's email address - that's all. it misrepresents research (I know that to be the case because I've often read the research - as presented by the scientists responsible - in academic journals and the mainstream media).

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  • mmjames  |  September 06 2013, 11:55AM

    Clued-Up Friday, September 06 2013, 10:41AM You can attempt all the propaganda you want, the truth will out. As for your slating of the TBblogspot, that too is written by people who know what they are talking about. Peer reviewed scientists specialising in zTB, so scoff all you like and try and mislead others ... for now. David really has got you taped! [and no I don't know him personally either] http://tinyurl.com/o84ooe6

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  • mmjames  |  September 06 2013, 11:51AM

    3.Vaccination confers immunity for however long the vaccine works. ............ IF BCG worked that is, which is does NOT.... not even for humans. Dianne Summers was BCG vaccinated.

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  • mmjames  |  September 06 2013, 11:48AM

    Clued-Up Friday, September 06 2013, 10:41AM "@mmjames Friday, September 06 2013, 8:36AM I suspect this is your "interpretation" of what the vet said ......... NO. C&P with names and addy's removed and I've numbered the sentences to make them easier to read. A vet who is 'high up' in zTB circles too :) and presently "frothing" WRT the mistruths bandied about.

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  • Clued-Up  |  September 06 2013, 10:41AM

    @mmjames Friday, September 06 2013, 8:36AM I suspect this is your "interpretation" of what the vet said. Your point 5 for example is nonsense. Any badger sick enough to become a TB exciter is very sick indeed; it's unlikely to be capable of breeding or raising young. Around 85% badgers are TB free, of those who become infected most can shrug off the disease without reaching the stage where they become infectious to others. Only around 1% badgers become sick enough to infect others and to become TB excreters. To answer your other points:- 1. Look up detailed, objective academic studies on Google - they're easily found. Just avoid the pro-cull propaganda sites like the infamous TBblogspot! 2. See 1. There aren't any dubious assumptions. 3.Vaccination confers immunity for however long the vaccine works. "Herd immunity" means you only need to cover around 75% - 80% population before the whole population becomes immune to the disease (ie occasionally individuals may get sick but they can't pass on the disease to others). In SOME setts where vaccination has been going on for several years , it seems probable all the badgers are and will remain entirely TB free. 4. Vaccination is a disease prevention method and confers immunity. It stops diseased individuals passing on disease to others and so kills off the disease in the population. 5.Answered already. 6. See 3. Wild badgers only live 4 years so giving most animals within that sett the vaccine will quickly result in an entirely TB free population of badgers within the whole territory.

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  • mmjames  |  September 06 2013, 8:36AM

    Direct from a Veterinary Surgeon: 1. Where is the actual evidence for any of this? 2. There are a number of assumptions here, some of which are very dubious. 3.The percentage to control an outbreak of disease is the percentage immune, not vaccinated. 4.We don't know how many actually become immune. None of those that are infected will. 5.Any cubs born to an excreting (not necessarily sick) badger may well become infected before they even leave the sett. 6. Vaccination will not be effective at this stage, so how is eradication in 4 years going to happen?

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