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Protecting UK cattle from brucellosis.

All brucellosis surveillance periodic blood testing ceased with effect from April 9, meaning cattle will no longer be routinely blood sampled every two years and tested for brucellosis. Some of the samples collected for brucellosis were also tested to demonstrate freedom from enzootic bovine leukosis (EBL) and warble fly, and therefore this surveillance will also cease.

This follows a review of the scheme which concluded there is no longer a need to maintain routine blood testing. However, the following measures are being maintained to protect GB cattle from incursions of brucellosis:

Import controls and certification;

Post-import and post- calving check testing;

Abortion investigations;

Monthly bulk milk testing in dairy herds.

A feature of brucellosis - which was eradicated from cattle herds in Great Britain in 1979, is that it cannot always be detected by blood testing until around the time an infected animal calves or aborts ('slips the calf').

Testing soon after abortion or calving, therefore, has a greater chance of picking up infection at an early stage, especially in beef herds where the milk cannot be routinely tested.

The law requires cattle keepers to report every abortion or premature calving to an appropriate officer (a veterinary inspector). In the first instance you must report any bovine abortion or premature calving to the duty veterinary officer at your Divisional Animal Health Office.

He or she will ascertain if an abortion investigation is required. In the case of dairy cows contributing to a regular monthly bulk milk sample that is tested for brucellosis, an abortion investigation may not be required. In all other cases an abortion investigation will be required.

In most cases the investigation will be carried out by your private veterinary surgeon who will be instructed by the divisional veterinary manager to carry out the investigation.

The cost of an abortion investigation for brucellosis is met by the Government.

Montgomeryshire livestock farmer Gareth Vaughan is president of the Farmers' Union of Wales
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 24, 2007
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