Page last updated at 12:51 GMT, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 13:51 UK

Goats are slaughtered in TB scare

By Carl Yapp
BBC News website at the Royal Welsh Show

Goats (library picture)
The disease is unusual in goats, says the Welsh Assembly Government

Twenty-two goats from six herds in Wales and England have been slaughtered after cases of bovine TB were found in animals from Carmarthenshire.

Nick Clayton of The Goat Veterinary Society (GVS) said the affected herds were "dotted" around.

The disease was discovered in some rare golden Guernsey goats which were being sold by a Carmarthenshire breeder.

The British Goat Society said the outbreak had come as a "complete shock" to the industry.

Mr Clayton, from Gloucestershire, a retired vet of 35 years, said the GVS was working with Animal Health, an executive agency of the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which is responsible for management of the outbreak

He said it was only the second of its type in more than 50 years.

Twenty-two goats have been culled and 20 had lesions typically associated with the effects of TB
Nick Clayton of The Goat Veterinary Society

Bovine TB was diagnosed in a small number of goats in England 12 months ago, but it is not clear at present if that is linked to the latest scare.

However, a "significant portion" of the rare golden Guernsey breed was now at risk, he said.

"Twenty-two goats have been culled and 20 had lesions typically associated with the effects of TB," Mr Clayton added.

"Six herds dotted around England and Wales have been tested now and a few cases have been found.

"We know it (the disease) started in an area where there's a lot of TB in cattle, badgers and deer, but until we get the final results in two weeks we cannot say for certain that the strain of the disease is bovine TB. However, we are 90% certain."

Mr Clayton said consumers need not worry because commercially available goats' milk was pasteurised, a process which kills TB.

Further tests could show, within about two miles, where the disease originated.

Meanwhile, the British Goat Society, whose members are made up of breeders, said it had been in contact with some of the farmers affected by the outbreak.

"We've had contact with some of those who had bought the animals after they were dispersed," said society health and welfare officer, Charlie Peck.

"They are very upset and in a state of complete shock, as is the industry.

Final stages

"There has been very, very few recorded incidents of TB in goats since World War II."

Mr Peck said unlike cattle breeders affected by the disease, people who bred goats were not entitled to compensation.

Meanwhile, the Welsh Assembly Government is in the final stages of preparing an order that would allow inspectors powers of entry and testing to premises where bovine TB is suspected in any animal.

The order, which will be put before AMs on 21 October, could come into force the following day.

The assembly government confirmed the Carmarthenshire outbreak on Tuesday, and said it knew of a similar case in England which is understood to be linked.

The disease in goats is unusual, and animal health officials are checking to see if it has spread to other herds.

Bovine TB outbreak in Welsh goats
22 Jul 08 |  Mid Wales
Benn confirms TB cull rejection
07 Jul 08 |  Science/Nature
Report backs limited badger cull
27 Feb 08 |  Science/Nature

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