Thursday, 13 May 2010

The ten year man

Glyn Hewinson from VLA has the dubious honour of being known as "The Ten Year Man" among farmers, or so he tells us, because any vaccine is always ten years away. Or maybe not. As he explained, there is now a vaccine that could be used on cattle - except it would be illegal and would wreck our meat trade. There would be no way of distinguishing the skin reaction of vaccinated cows and those carrying bTB. So until the researchers find a way around this, we can only keep it in reserve. Badgers may be luckier: there is now a vaccine that could protect them. Unfortunately they are reluctant to line up in the vet's waiting room for their jabs (perhaps like me they hate needles) so trapping will be necessary to make sure they get their annual dose. It will be interesting to see the result of the trial. Glyn emphasises that vaccines won't be a magic bullet, and it could take several years to see positive effects, but they are essential tools if we are ever to get ahead of this pernicious disease.

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