Page last updated at 09:30 GMT, Friday, 1 January 2010

All Wales cattle checked for bovine TB

Vet Meurig Evans test cattle belonging to Wil Evans on Anglesey. The cattle passed.
Vet Meurig Evans test cattle belonging to Wil Evans on Anglesey. The cattle passed.

Tests for bovine TB on all cattle herds in Wales have shown the disease is more widespread than thought.

The 15-month initiative involved 13,130 herds as part of a Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) package to eradicate the disease in Wales.

The initiative resulted in the slaughter of 185 cattle from 96 herds previously thought to be clear.

Sixty two of these herds were in north Wales, an area not previously thought to be at risk.

Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones said TB Health Check Wales had given a clear picture of disease levels in Wales.

"It has also helped to stop the disease from establishing itself in new areas," she said.

'Real impact'

"This is due to early identification of incidents of the disease, and rapid removal of the sources of infection," she added.

Ms Jones said the tests had a "real impact" in areas such as north Wales where bovine TB was not thought to be a significant problem.

"Prior to this initiative cattle in the area were only tested every four years.

"Thanks to the health check herds in these areas have been tested, and removed if infected, much sooner," she added.

Dr Christianne Glossop, Wales' chief vet said bovine TB is a serious animal health and welfare issue for both cattle and badgers.

'Different measures'

"As with any animal health problem we need to identify the problem and get rid of it quickly to stop infection from spreading," she added.

Dr Glossop said 1,126 new cases of herds going down with TB were discovered in the past year.

"This is on top of the farms that were already under restrictions.

"So while the health check has helped us contain the disease in some areas, in the areas where the disease i now endemic, we need to use different measures."

The final statistics from Health Check Wales will be published at the end of January 2010.

The date will be analysed and will include identifying the probable origins of each new outbreak.

From January too all cattle herds in Wales will require an annual test and all cattle must be tested before moving them.

This will make Welsh farmers compliant with new regulations for moving cattle from Wales to Scotland which is officially TB free.

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