Bovine TB data not published due to computer problem

The latest information about the spread of bovine TB is stuck in a government computer.

This means that as preparations begin for a cull of badgers to control the disease there is no up-to-date information available on the spread and incidence of bovine TB for the past four months.

The computer glitch struck during a change over in IT systems in autumn 2011.

Since then no data on the number of cattle with bovine TB or their location has been issued by the government.

The Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) based in Worcester said the problem should not affect the cull but it cannot say when the data will finally be released.

It admits the glitch has caused a backlog in TB testing on some farms but said this has now been resolved.

Cattle infected with bovine TB must be slaughtered and the farm placed under movement restrictions to avoid spreading the disease.

As well as cattle-to-cattle transmission, bovine TB can also be spread by badgers.

To tackle infection spread by badgers the government will be conducting two pilot culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire.

The culls will take place for six weeks in the autumn of 2012 and be repeated for at least four years.

Monitoring the impact on bovine TB in cattle in the cull areas will be a vital part of the trial.

The NFU has described the problem as "frustrating" for farmers.

In a statement, the AHVLA said it has no time frame for when the statistics will be published and that it is "working closely with its IT supplier and with Defra statisticians to resolve the issues".

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