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More tailored and hands-on management approach by AHVLA to be standard business

Herds suffering long-term TB breakdowns will in future be considered for a more tailored and hands-on management approach by AHVLA, in partnership with farmers' private vets, as a standard business as usual activity in England and Wales.

This follows feedback from stakeholders and recognition that a more proactive approach was necessary.

From 3 February 2014, herd breakdowns lasting more than 18 months are subject to enhanced case management procedures aimed at helping herd owners to regain their Officially TB Free status as quickly as possible and reducing the risk of future breakdowns. Measures may include additional investigative work to identify factors contributing to persistence of infection followed by targeted interventions to address the issues identified.

This approach seeks to:

  • Enhance support for cattle keepers in working towards regaining OTF status
  • Identify and deal with the factors causing persistent infection
  • Reduce risks posed to contiguous premises
  • Reduce the impact on farming businesses and general taxpayers
  • Monitor and review the effectiveness of measures applied and use the skills and knowledge gained to inform management of future breakdowns.

Herds subject to enhanced case management may be selected based on:

  • Length of breakdown, number of reactors and compensation costs
  • Results of post mortem examinations
  • Herd size and dynamics including movement volumes
  • Herd or business history
  • Local epidemiology.

Trained AHVLA veterinary officers will be assigned to each case and will consider the following issues and additional measures in determining an appropriate enhanced management approach:

  • Internal movement controls within fragmented holdings and the separation of different management groups
  • Test interpretation and testing patterns
  • Quality of testing
  • Use of gamma interferon and other ancillary tests
  • Increased removal of Direct Contacts, partial or whole-herd slaughter
  • Review movement controls and trading options - with continued attention to movements on to the premises
  • Disease dynamics across fragmented holdings using test results in order to facilitate targeting of enhanced controls
  • Additional advice and guidance, improving the standard of biosecurity and bio-containment (including, in Wales, the serving of Veterinary Improvement Notices)
  • Farmer support from private vets and others, such as South West TB Advisory Service and Farming Community Network.

Epidemiological support work will inform individual case decisions, as well as national strategy.

Official Veterinarians will be consulted for local knowledge and herd health issues that may be of significance. They will also be invited to attend an on-farm meeting, for which they will be paid.

The success of these enhanced actions will be measured by pairing herds for epidemiological comparison, farmer questionnaires, quantitative measures (especially determining cost savings), and internal case review.

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