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Letters flocks have over twice the risk of having a breakdown compared to flocks that have solely MV accredited sheep on their holding. We would like to remind our veterinary colleagues to ensure that, when carrying out blood testing for the MV accreditation scheme, the signed veterinary declaration confirms that the farm security rules relating to the MV accreditation scheme were explained to their client and that, to the best of their knowledge, the client is complying with the rules of the scheme. A check list of the biosecurity rules can be found on our website ( Vets should inform the Premium Sheep and Goat Health Schemes office if they have concerns over a flock’s biosecurity. We can arrange for an independent inspector to visit the flock which allows us to assess the risk and react accordingly. The frequency of flock testing is related to the disease risk. Owners of flocks with the lowest risk (ie, those that only have MV accredited sheep) need to have their flock’s routine periodic blood test only every three years (compared to every two years for holdings where there are also non-MV accredited sheep). However, they do need to blood test any added accredited sheep within 12 months of purchase. Preferably, this test should be done in quarantine before the sheep enter the flock. We also advise members who attend shows to blood test their show team at the start and end of the show season. From the results of the 2010 Great Britain-wide survey, and the more frequent requests that we receive for assistance in dealing with MV in commercial infected flocks, there is evidence of an increasing prevalence of MV infection in flocks in Great Britain. The survey found that the prevalence of MV at the flock level in two regions was as high as 14 to 15 per cent. Clients should be encouraged to consider the real and significant economic risk to their flock if it becomes infected with MV virus. Some infected flocks were no longer economically viable and were culled. Where possible, all flock owners should source MV accredited sheep or at least isolate and test sheep before introducing them to their flock. Regular screening, which can be built into a health plan, can help to identify if infection is present at a stage when it is easier to control and before significant losses occur. If infection is at a low level it can be possible to eliminate it from a flock (Synge and Ritchie 2010). We offer a reduced price test package, called the MV Diagnostic Test, as a targeted check test. It is involves blood sampling 12 thinner (or older or mastitic) sheep. More information can be found on our website (www. We would encourage practitioners to increase the awareness of their sheep clients to the increasing prevalence of MV infection across the country and the effects of the disease.

Catriona Ritchie, Premium Sheep and Goat Health Schemes, SAC Consulting Veterinary Services, Mill of Craibstone, Aberdeen AB21 9TB e-mail: [email protected] Brian Hosie, SAC Consulting Veterinary Services, Allan Watt Building, Bush Estate, Penicuik, Midlothian EH26 0QE


RITCHIE, C. & HOSIE, B. (2010) Increase in maedivisna breakdowns. Veterinary Record 167, 389 SYNGE, B. A. & RITCHIE, C. M. (2010) Elimination of small ruminant lentivirus infection from sheep flocks and goat herds aided by health schemes in Great Britain. Veterinary Record 167, 739-743

doi: 10.1136/vr.g4522


International conference on M bovis WE were delighted to see the success of the international conference on Mycobacterium bovis held in Cardiff last month (VR, July 5, 2014, vol 175, pp 7-8). The event was hosted jointly by the British Cattle

Veterinary Association (BCVA), Welsh Government, AHVLA and Defra, and organised by a planning committee chaired by BVA and BCVA past-president Carl Padgett. All of the hosts deserve our congratulations for bringing such a globally significant event to the UK and delivering an excellent programme bringing together policymakers, epidemiologists, scientists and economists from around the world. BVA president-elect, John Blackwell, attended the conference and was hugely impressed by the calibre of speakers and sessions, and other feedback I have heard has been full of praise. Public conversations about bovine TB policy in the UK are consistently marred by political point scoring and conflict, and the M bovis conference provided an excellent opportunity to explore the science and social elements of the disease in a constructive environment, and to learn from the experiences in other countries. It is frustrating that such an important conference with leading scientists and commentators received little attention from the mainstream media, which increasingly focuses on the polarised debate on badger culling. However, we hope colleagues will take the opportunity to read the veterinary and industry reports

July 12, 2014 | Veterinary Record | 51

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Letters of the event. I personally look forward to hearing and reading more about the outcomes from the conference and seeing the ideas being fed into our own debates. Robin Hargreaves, President, BVA, 7 Mansfield Street, London W1G 9NQ e-mail: [email protected] doi: 10.1136/vr.g4523


Transmission of bovine TB THE letter from Marc Abraham and others (VR, June 28, 2014, vol 174, pp 665656) asks that we as a profession do not succumb to advocating the apparent ‘easy fix’ of inhumane and indiscriminate badger killing in an effort to control bovine TB. They offer considerable evidence which they suggest shows that killing badgers has no basis in science and is not ethically justifiable. I have read the Independent Expert Panel’s report, and do not draw the categoric conclusion that the controlled shooting of badgers was both ‘ineffective and inhumane’, as they do. I have spent time with people from a variety of interest groups and backgrounds who are minded that badger vaccination is a worthwhile effort, but no one yet who offers that it will provide a reliable method of reducing transmission of M bovis from an infected badger population to cattle in the foreseeable future. Abraham and others show that the ecological and social environments in which other countries have conducted wildlife culling is unlike the UK, and reasonably suggest those experiences are not evidence that killing badgers will, alone, control bovine TB in the UK. I can assure Mr Abraham and his coauthors that there is a massive crosscommunity effort to address the problem of M bovis in the UK, in all its reservoirs, and in an holistic manner. Having been sceptical about the justification of the costs, in all respects, I am now convinced that M bovis presents sufficient risk to both human and animal health and welfare, and that the effort and investment in its control is worthwhile for reasons other than trade. Success will come from cohesive efforts by many, including veterinary scientists, but also groups with other skills, some formally recognised and some not. Progress is likely to come from modest starting points, where people who have got to know and trust each other find common ground. 52 | Veterinary Record | July 12, 2014

To that end, I ask Mr Abraham and his coauthors to tell us two things. Do they have a vision of sustainable livestock production in the UK? Do they believe that, with no human interference (itself an ecological oxymoron), the badger population will stabilise at a level which enhances the overall biodiversity of the UK? If and when they can respond to these issues with as much rigour as they expend on selection of the science which supports their contention that others’ arguments are flawed, they will find the community which is lined up against M bovis will welcome their help in shaping our rural future. Neil M. Howie, The Laurels, Chapel Lane, Ravensmoor, Nantwich CW5 8PT e-mail: [email protected] doi: 10.1136/vr.g4524

alternative products, they may submit import certificate applications for these. Each application will be assessed on its individual merits. The contact details of the known manufacturers are: n BIOMED Warsaw, Wytwornia Surowic i szczepionek, BIOMED Ltd, Ul. Chelmska 30/34, 00-725 Warsaw, Poland telephone: +48 22 841 4071 n Institute of Immunology, Rockefellerova 2, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia telephone: +385 1 46 84 500 Denise Burge, Legislation Team, Veterinary Medicines Directorate, Woodham Lane, New Haw, Surrey KT15 3LS e-mail: [email protected] doi: 10.1136/vr.g4525


Availability of adder antivenom FURTHER to the letters from Alan Sim (VR, June 7, 2014, vol 174, p 589) and Nicola Bates and Nick Edwards (VR, June 21, 2014, vol 174, p 639) following the supply problems for European snake antivenom, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) would like to remind veterinary surgeons that veterinary medicines that have passed their expiry date should not be supplied or administered. The Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2013 make it an offence, under Regulation 7(2), to supply or administer a medicine that has passed its expiry date. This is because their quality and hence safety and efficacy may not be maintained beyond the authorised shelf life and, as a result, they could be harmful to the animal or fail to work effectively. It has recently come to VMD’s attention that the Institute of Immunology (Croatia) is no longer manufacturing the antiserum but the VMD is currently accepting applications to import European Viper Antiserum from Biomed (Poland). We recommend that, before submitting an application, you contact the relevant manufacturer to ensure they are able to supply the quantity of product you wish to import. In urgent cases the antivenom may be supplied, purchased and used prior to the Special Treatment Certificate being obtained from the VMD. This is a special dispensation made for this clinical condition only. For further information please contact Sam Ward at the VMD on 01932 338496. If a veterinary surgeon is aware of any

Non-stun slaughter IN response to Simon Hayes’s letter (VR, July 5, 2014, vol 175, p 24) it is correct that rotating, or ‘casting’, pens were banned in the UK when the Slaughter of Animals (Humane Conditions) Regulations 1990 came into force. These stipulated that no new casting pens were to be installed in slaughter houses after July 1990, and that those already in use were to be phased out by July 1992. I witnessed Shechita slaughter of cattle in a modern abattoir in France, in the 21st century as stated in my letter (VR, June 14, vol 174, p 614), where I observed that cattle were not stunned and killed by the cut in a single procedure. However, apart from having seen it for myself, I know that there is research that indicates that it takes far longer than a few seconds for an animal to lose consciousness after the cut and also that, however sharp the knife, the cut causes pain. It is also to be noted that the 1990 regulations included new requirements relating to slaughter by religious methods in that, following the cut, the animal is not to be moved before it is unconscious from loss of blood. A minimum period of 20 seconds for sheep and goats, and 30 seconds for cattle, is stipulated in order to be certain that the animal is no longer conscious. These stipulations would appear to indicate that the animal is not considered to be unconscious or dead after the cut. Margaret Boyde, 41 Camelot Close, Southwater, Horsham, West Sussex RH13 9XP e-mail: [email protected] doi: 10.1136/vr.g4526

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International conference on M bovis Robin Hargreaves Veterinary Record 2014 175: 51-52

doi: 10.1136/vr.g4523 Updated information and services can be found at:

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