Bovine TB outbreak in hunt hounds – a vet’s perspective

Sadly, bovine TB has occurred in these unfortunate dogs, and that is tragic for those animals and their owners.

However, the presence of active bovine TB lesions in these hounds could help explain the tight epidemiological overlap between fox hunting and bovine TB in England and Wales. Pretending that badgers are one of the main causes of bTB is disingenuous, and It's high-time Defra stopped being economical with the truth about the connections epidemiologically between bovine TB and hunting with hounds.

It seems highly likely that feeding hounds on “fallen stock” has led to this outbreak, and this should lead to immediate strengthening of legislation to prevent this practice throughout the cull zones and high TB risk areas. It is also possible that the hunt may have been used as a cover for non-declaration of bovine TB cases in cows, so that the farmer does not suffer the severe penalties imposed on farmers with TB in their herd. Around 500 herds each year are only detected as having TB at the slaughterhouse. More perhaps go undetected by feeding the carcasses to hounds.

Map of the Kimblewick Hunt country and the Bovine TB outbreaks in the area

In terms of dog welfare, this whole issue calls into question the safety of hounds under these conditions. If circumstances transpire which cause hunts to risk transmitting bovine TB to their hounds, something is badly wrong with the system.

In light of these findings it is my professional opinion that all hunting with hounds should cease immediately in the cull zones and high-risk TB areas, and that a consideration be given to a nationwide ban in England, where bovine TB is spiralling out of control in the West.

Iain McGill
Vets Against the Cull


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