TB eradicator gets Royal approval

PROFESSOR Christianne Glossop has won a Royal award for her efforts to eradicate bovine TB from the UK cattle herd.

Prof Glossop, the Welsh Assembly chief vet, was presented with the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers’ Princess Royal Award by Her Royal Highness at Buckingham Palace on Thursday (March 11) in recognition of her outstanding services to the industry.

David Cotton, RABDF chairman, said Prof Glossop had dedicated her 30 year career to improving the health and welfare of livestock, most notably in its battle against TB.

“The award recognises her continued drive, enthusiasm and determination in the face of strong opposition, to move the issue forward and help the long term health and welfare of British livestock,” he said.

Prof Glossop first dealt with severe TB breakdowns in Gloucester, where she worked as a vet for Animal Health, in the wake of the 2001 foot and mouth disease outbreak.

“There I saw first hand the devastating effect this disease can have not only on farm businesses, but also on farming families,” she said.

She has since been instrumental in devising and implementing TB control and eradication measures, including a controlled cull, in Wales where she became chief vet in 2005.

“When I took up the post I recognised the significant challenge of TB in the Welsh cattle herd. I was determined simply to be a vet when it came to tackling this issue, applying the basic principles of infectious disease control.

“Since then, I’ve applied my knowledge and experience of population medicine, working in close conjunction with specialists in all relevant scientific fields.

“Within Wales, we are building a comprehensive TB eradication strategy. This is a collaborative effort that depends on honest appraisal of the facts, and full co-operation across all those affected by and involved in the problem - farmers, vets, auctioneers, local authorities and policy makers.

“TB eradication is an ambitious objective, but it has been achieved in Australia, and the New Zealand programme is making excellent progress.

“I’m confident that we can beat this crippling disease here if we work together, bear down hard on infection, apply all the lessons learned already and embrace new technologies as they become available.

“This is a battle we have to win,” she said.

Readers' comments (10)

  • If Professor Glossop is so confident about the (highly contentious) measures she is proposing why won't she, like all good scientists, expose them to rigorous examination and review. She plans yet another a cull of badgers (how many futile ones have we had already elsewhere?) but refuses to put in place measures which will allow her, the public who pay her salary, and the Assembly to whom she is responsible, to measure its failure or success. Without suitable concurrent controls in place the cull--a nice word for a mass slaughter of mostly healthy badgers--will tell us precisely nothing. Quite disgraceful.

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  • How I agree with this comment, the cull will prove nothing, just make it look as if WAG are doing something to combate bTB.Credit goes to Hilary Benn who is not afraid to study the Science and refuse an English cull

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  • How strange to give someone an award who has not achieved anything yet, and as above, we wont know if it works. Is it just a publicity stunt.

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  • How twisted it is to give an award for the planned slaughter of wildlife.

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  • Disgusting to give an award to a person who supports the killing of wildlife. Another one who is in league with these cruel dairy farmers. Of course a royal award, the royals like to kill wildlife dont they! We in the wildlife groups will fight until all this killing stops. They all have innocent creatures blood on their hands.

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  • I suggest that Ms Glossop and anyone else who has an interest in bTB should read the recently published ‘Public Health and bovine tuberculosis – what’s all the fuss about’ by Paul R Torgerson and David J Torgenson. It is a very well researched and referenced article, which concludes that bTB control in cattle is irrelevant as a public health policy and there is little evidence either for a positive cost benefit in terms of animal health of bTB control. It suggests that such evidence is required; otherwise there is little justification for the large sums of money spent on bTB control in the UK. It is time for a radical re-think on policy. We already have reports that conclude culling of badgers is not good value for money. Over the last decade or so badgers seem to have occupied a disproportionate amount of time and resources at the expense of a more sustainable, lasting solution for cattle. An unpopular cull, which is now proven to be a waste of tax payers’ money, as well as not being properly backed up by reliable scientific evidence, is bad publicity for farmers and may even have serious implications for tourism and food industries if an angry public decide on boycotts.

    Despite a compulsory testing regime for some fifty years, we are told bTB is now endemic in many areas of the UK. This is based solely on the results of a skin test for cattle that has not really changed since it was originally developed and that many now believe may not be as reliable as is claimed. How accurate and up to date is the scientific data behind the claims of its sensitivity and positive productive values? Less than 30% of cattle slaughtered under the existing skin test system are shown to have bTB. Whilst reasons are given for this, they are weak and open to challenge without substantive scientific evidence, which is not made available. It is interesting to note that despite the claims that the disease is now out of control, few people ever contract the disease - even farmers, testers, vets, abattoir workers etc who are in regular and close contact of supposedly infected animals - and many farming families drink their own milk raw, before it is pasteurized. It is generally accepted that nowadays bTB poses negligible risk to human health. The existing policy is all about maintaining TB free status and protecting exports. It is concerned mainly with meeting targets and deadlines, not protecting human or animal health and welfare. Whilst the government ministers and bureaucrats are busy claiming how successful the TB Health Check Wales has been, the very significant costs for those adversely affected, have been largely ignored. It would probably not be tolerated in any other sector but most farmers are held to ransom because of fear of financial penalties. Are there now too many vested interest groups keen to see the existing system continue for as long as possible?

    The human form of Tb has been controlled adequately for decades, so why, after so many years and millions of taxpayers’ money already spent, is there still no vaccination programme for bTB? As the two disease are so closely linked surely the efficacy of such a programme would be similar to the claims made for the existing, unreliable and very time consuming skin test system? Surely the best way forward is for a vaccination programme for cattle to start without further delay and for farmers and unions to be campaigning strongly for this and the necessary change in EU legislation to facilitate?

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  • Glossop has not eradicated TB so the heading is misleading. Does she really deserve any award? She is presumably paid very well as chief vet for Wales and therefore doing very nicely out of this on-going and unsustainable saga, at the taxpayers' expense - one of the vested interests as mentioned in the previous post?!. She is not working beyond her call of duty and all the misery she has been instrumental in causing to humans and cattle (and next badgers), as a result of the zero tolerance policy of Health Check Wales she has lead and driven is always conveniently ignored.

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  • To the first post. The success of the eradication measures will be measured by how many incidents of bovine TB are reported inside the area in the years the pilot takes place. The badger cull is not being measured in isolation as it is one of several measures used to tackle the disease on all fronts - in wildlife and in cattle.

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  • Well done to Prof Glossop for seeing beyond the lies ,doing what has been done in the past ,and copied by other countries around the world.

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  • Well done Glossop for not giving in to the type of people who flit between websites spouting rubbish about not needing to control enzootic diseases and don't even understand basic O-level biology type concepts such as why postmortems can't pick up early bTB infection. These people have probably never even seen a skin test being carried out and wouldn't know what a 60 day repeat test was having never gone through the agony of waiting for the reading of one. Perhaps they have some equally useful insights into space shuttle design or some other area that does not affect them.

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