We have been advised by the Animal and Plant Health Agency of a potential TB hotspot in the Lincolnshire area, please find information below:

The narrative below details how you can help and what a TB hotspot means for that area.

Notification of a Potential Bovine TB Hotspot Area

We are writing to advise you that the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) has set up a new bovine TB potential hotspot area (PHA) in the Lincolnshire Wolds (Louth) area.  To improve our understanding of the disease in this area, we would be grateful for your help in completing a wildlife survey, by notifying us of road kill and found dead badgers and wild deer, to ascertain whether there is evidence of TB infection in local wildlife.  The map of the potential hotspot area and a written description of its boundaries can be obtained by emailingtim.weston@nationalgamekeepers.org.uk.

How you can help

If you find a dead badger or wild deer carcase within the PHA, please report this to APHA via the Defra Rural Services Helpline 03000 200301.

We will need the following details:

  • the location of the carcase to assess whether it falls within the PHA and in order to find it, if it’s suitable for collection. This could be an OS grid reference, longitude-latitude co-ordinates, the what3words address (tapping on the exact square where the carcase is located), a postcode or enough detail to precisely locate the carcase
  • whenever possible an assessment of the condition of the carcase because decomposing or extensively damaged carcases are not suitable for post mortem examination.

There is important advice on safety and on carcase suitability in the guidance at the end of this letter.

Please note that wildlife carcases located on or beside motorways or dual carriageways cannot be collected by APHA.  These can be reported to the Highways Agency (for trunk roads) or the Local Authority for disposal.

What is a bovine TB potential hotspot area?

A potential hotspot area (PHA) s identified when one or more lesion and/or culture positive TB breakdownsof obscure originoccurs in the Low Risk Area. Obscure origin means that, following investigation by the APHA, the breakdown(s) in question cannot be attributed to introductions of TB-infected cattle or to spread from other cattle herds or non-bovine livestock in the locality.  The boundaries of the PHA are agreed for logical epidemiological reasons but follow, as much as possible, distinct geographical features such as roads and rivers, which make it easier to decide if a carcase is eligible for collection.

What happens in the PHA?

a) TB testing of cattle

  • cattle herds within a 3km radius of any TB breakdown with lesion and/or culture-positive animals have an initial ‘radial’ skin test, a second radial test six months later and a final radial test 12 months after the second one. Radial tests involve all animals 42 days of age and older in the herd.  Radial testing of affected herds will have been scheduled prior to the decision to establish a PHA
  • cattle moving out of herds subject to radial testing must be pre-movement tested, unless a specific movement is exempt from that requirement (e.g. calves under 42 days old or movements to slaughter)
  • any herds experiencing a TB breakdown with lesion and/or culture positive animals will undergo interferon-gamma blood testing in addition to TB skin testing, as for all such breakdowns in the LRA
  1. b) TB testing of goats, captive deer and camelids
  • herds of goats, captive deer and camelids (e.g. llamas and alpacas) that are kept near TB breakdowns with lesion and/or culture positive animals  are TB tested
  1. c) A wildlife survey
  • found dead and road-kill badgers and wild deer within the PHA will be collected by APHA for post mortem examination and bacteriological culture of tissue samples, provided the carcase is in a suitable condition and safe to collect
  1. c) Informing stakeholders
  • in addition to cattle keepers, farming unions, private veterinary practices, and the RSPCA are informed that a wildlife survey has been initiated
  • the Forestry Commission and Deer Initiative are informed and asked to remind local deer stalkers, game keepers and game dealers of their obligation to report suspect TB cases in deer
  • the police, local authority and Highways Agency in the area are informed that a wildlife survey has been initiated

What will APHA do with the cattle testing and wildlife survey information?

APHA will analyse the results of radial testing of cattle herds and of any TB testing of goats, captive deer and camelids  in the PHA and consider any confirmation of TB from the wildlife survey.  This analysis may result in the PHA being closed and the wildlife survey ending, or may lead to a decision to maintain or expand the PHA both for the purposes of enhanced cattle surveillance and the wildlife survey.

APHA will not serve restrictions on any herds located on or near the land where a TB positive carcase may be found.  The wildlife survey information will contribute to overall decisions relating to the future of the PHA as a whole, rather than of individual cattle herds.

APHA will provide feedback to all the local stakeholders.

Guidance regarding carcase suitability and hazards to consider:

Suitability to submit- the wildlife carcase needs to be assessed as to whether it is suitable for post mortem examination. A carcase is not suitable if it is/has:

  • significantly flattened
  • grossly distended with gas (bloated)
  • major wounds to the throat or chest or any open body cavities
  • large numbers of maggots in or on it
  • in an advanced state of putrefaction (decomposing and greenish with hair or skin falling off).

Important hazards and risks to consider:

You are advised not to handle the carcase of wildlife you are reporting for collection.  However, if you consider it essential to move it to a safe location for collection by APHA, please consider the following advice:

  • Road safety – ensure that you do not endanger yourself or others
  • Infection hazards (tuberculosis, but also other infections including salmonellosis) – In addition to TB, badgers can be infected with a range of other organisms infectious to people. Of these, the most common and potentially most serious are a range of Salmonella serotypes. The main route of transmission to humans of Mycobacterium. bovis (the bovine TB bacterium) is likely to be respiratory, through aerosols, although infection through cuts or ingestion is also possible. For Salmonellas, ingestion is the most likely route, and therefore poses the greatest risk. When handling badger carcases, it is advisable at all times to wear disposable overalls, disposable gloves, a close fitting face mask and safety goggles.

Should you require any further details, please contact APHA on 03000 200301.

Yours sincerely,

Gonzalo Sanchez-Cabezudo

Veterinary Head of Field Delivery

Contact the NGO

Tel: 01833 660 869

Email: info@nationalgamekeepers.org.uk