§ Mr. Biffen
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the latest findings of the Central Veterinary Laboratory on the incidence of bovine tuberculosis in badgers and the cross infection with cattle.
§ Mr. Strang
Since the causal organism of bovine tuberculosis—Mycobacterium bovis—was first isolated from a badger carcase from Gloucestershire in April 1971, material from over 700 badger carcases obtained from the counties of Avon, Cornwall, Dorset, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire have been examined at the Central Veterinary Laboratory. More than 20 per cent. of these carcases have been found to be infected with the disease. This routine investigational work involving both field and laboratory sections of the Ministry's Veterinary Service is continuing and has confirmed that bovine tuberculosis is endemic in badgers in certain limited areas in the South-West and that this animal is playing a significant part in the spread of the disease in cattle in those areas.169W