Data on tests, new incidents, restricted herds and cattle slaughtered with bovine TB for December 2020.
This is not the latest release in the series: Incidence of tuberculosis (TB) in cattle in Great Britain
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Statistics release, on which this statistical headline is based, includes statistics on the basis of the Wales TB areas.
During the whole of 2020 there has been 5% fewer TB tests completed compared to 2019. A proportion of these are due to overdue tests. Tests have only taken place where it has been deemed safe to do so while maintaining social distancing.
New TB herd incidents
In the 12 months to December 2020, there were 612 new herd incidents reported in Wales. This is an 8% decrease on the previous 12 months, when there were 667 new incidents.
Animals slaughtered for TB control
In the 12 months to December 2020, 9,762 cattle were slaughtered due to bovine TB control. This is a 20% decrease on the previous 12 months, when 12,256 cattle were slaughtered.
The overall trend for animals slaughtered due to bovine TB control is variable. Much of the rise since 2014 is attributable to increased use of high-sensitivity testing. For example, gamma-testing, removal of Inconclusive Reactors (IRs) and severe interpretation of the skin test have all been used with the intention of clearing up infection and reducing the risk of the disease spreading and breakdowns recurring.
As the chart shows, the monthly series is extremely variable and peaks can be expected from time to time. There had been an increase in the trend since the peak in October 2018 was reached, this has since began to fall. Further analysis of this trend up to June 2019 has been published in the statistical article: Analysis on the number of animals slaughtered due to bovine TB controls, October 2018 to June 2019.
Defra carried out a Statistics User Survey during the summer to engage with users and seek feedback on Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) publications. This was a survey and not a formal consultation exercise, which is consistent with the guidance presented in the Code of Practice for Statistics. A main aim of this exercise was to gauge support from moving reporting frequency from monthly to quarterly.
Following the survey, Defra have discontinued the eight monthly official statistics releases published each year. The Office for Statistics Regulation have also been consulted and have no regulatory concerns as under the Code of Practice statistics producers (Defra) have a responsibility to review whether to continue, discontinue or adapt their releases.
The publication of the August 2020 monthly bTB statistics was the last monthly publication, however, quarterly releases remain. Monthly data will still be provided in the quarterly publication but will only be published each quarter similar to the Welsh Government TB surveillance dashboard. Due to the volatility in monthly data, monthly updates cannot be considered a reliable predictor of overall trends.
The full survey response has been published by Defra on their Bovine TB statistics pages.
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