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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 July, 2005, 09:54 GMT 10:54 UK
Pig farms 'safe from TB outbreak'
Pigs
TB has only just been made a notifiable disease in pigs
A leading vet says the rare case of a pig with bovine TB in Cornwall does not mean the industry is on the verge of a major outbreak.

Government vets are still examining the source of the disease in two pigs and some piglets on a farm near Bodmin.

But Andy Biggs, president of the British Cattle Veterinary Association, said the evidence so far showed the disease had been confined to the farm.

There is no risk of bovine TB spreading to humans.

'Spilling over'

Bovine TB in pigs is so rare that the State Veterinary Service only made it a notifiable disease last month.

Mr Biggs said the most likely source of infection was from the pigs eating an infected dead animal.

He told BBC's Farming Today programme: "The likely route would be oral because of lesions on the head of the pigs and an infected wildlife carcass would seem to be the logical route of entry into those pigs.

"Badgers are in the frame but there has been other work with other wildlife vectors. I don't want to point the finger at badgers."

He said it was "highly unlikely" that the disease, which is widespread among cattle in the West Country, would spread to the wider pig population.

Possible sources

He said: "It sounds like a point source infection.

"It is a very rare occurrence, but we can use it as an indicator that the wildlife reservoir of bovine TB is such now that it is spilling over into other species."

The Department for the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (Defra) is looking at a number of possible sources, including infected wildlife and unpasteurised milk from other farms.

Farmer Martin Appleton has been forced to slaughter his herd of Gloucester Old Spots and animal movements from his farm have been placed under restriction.

He said: "It is very confusing. I don't understand where it came from or how we got it."


SEE ALSO:
Bovine TB cases are found in pigs
12 Jul 05 |  Cornwall


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