HC Deb 02 July 2003 vol 408 cc283-4W
Mr. Flook

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many outbreaks of TB were recorded in red deer in(a) Devon and (b) Somerset in each of the last six years; and what action her Department has taken, and is planning to take, to eradicate TB. [120449]

Mr. Bradshaw

There is no routine surveillance of TB in deer. However, there is a requirement under the Tuberculosis (Deer) Order 1989 for any deer, alive or dead, suspected of having TB to be reported to the appropriate Divisional Veterinary Manager (DVM).

The following table gives (i) the number of laboratory examinations carried out on red deer suspected of having TB and (ii) the number of cases where bovine TB was confirmed in red deer in (a) Somerset and (b) Devon, over the last six years.

Bovine TB and red deer in Somerset and Devon 1997–20021
(a) Somerset (b) Devon
(i) Number of laboratory examinations on red deer (ii) Number of cases where M. bovis2 confirmed (i) Number of laboratory examinations on red deer (ii) Number of ceses where M. bovis2 confirmed
1997 0 0 0 0
1998 5 2 1 0
1999 0 0 0 0
2000 1 1 0 0
2001 0 0 0 0
2002 31 1 0 0
1Data extracted from Defra database on investigation of suspected TB in deer.
2Mycobacterium bovis—the causative organism for bovine TB.
3 This case came to our notice as a laboratory isolate. Suspicion of TB in the deer carcase was not notified to Defra.

So far in 2003 there have been two laboratory examinations on red deer in Somerset, and one in Devon. M. bovis has been isolated from one of the Somerset cases. The results of the laboratory tests on the other two cases are awaited.

Where a deer is found to have bovine TB, the DVM may decide to increase the cattle testing frequency in the area if annual herd testing is not already in place.

The current strategy in relation to bovine TB is based around the following five-point plan:

  • Protecting human health;
  • Cattle testing and controls;
  • Development of a TB vaccine;
  • Carrying out research into how TB is spread; and
  • Carrying out a badger culling trial.

As part of our research programme we are looking at the risk to cattle of contracting bovine TB from animals other than badgers. The research project, which is still in progress, is looking at a range of species including roe, red, sika and fallow deer in the west of England. The results are due to be published next year.

A review of the TB strategy was announced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State earlier this year. Initial stakeholder consultation is expected later in the summer with public consultation in the autumn. In the meantime officials are considering a range of short-term policy options which will be subject to consultation later in the year.

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