COUNTY NEWS: Bovine tuberculosis strikes in West Sussex

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EIGHTEEN cattle in the Midhurst area have tested positive for bovine tuberculosis (bTB).

One has already been destroyed and further blood tests are being carried out on 17 more reactors.

The cow already slaughtered belonged to the Sussex Wildlife Trust and was part of the trust’s herd grazing on Stedham Common.

The other 17 are from a farm in the Iping area, near Midhurst.

Amanda Rees a spokesman for the Sussex Wildlife Trust said: “Regrettably, Sussex Wildlife Trust has had one positive reactor for bovine TB in an animal at Stedham Common. This was picked up in a routine test. The reactor animal was destroyed by Defra.

“Sussex Wildlife Trust has scrupulously followed exactly the same procedures as any other farmer and no fault has been found by Defra. The animal in question was deliberately sourced from a TB-free part of the country when it was acquired in 2007 and since then it was tested on at least five occasions and each of these tests were negative.”

The affected cattle are all in three restriction zones set up by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) after the meat from a cow sent to slaughter from a farm near Pulborough tested positive.

Defra carried out a detailed examination of the farm’s records and identified three places where the affected cow could have been grazing in the weeks before its slaughter.

The three zones, all with a three kilometre radius, centre around Iping, Coultershaw Bridge near Petworth and Ebernoe.

57 farms in the three zones are now subject to restrictions which include conducting an initial TB test on their herds by June 8 and carrying out further TB tests on all cattle before they can be moved off the farm.

The South East is classed as a ‘very low risk’ area for bTB and farmers in the Midhurst area say confirmed cases are ‘practically unheard of’.

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