25 hounds euthanised after Bovine Tuberculosis outbreak

Stock image of hunting hounds
Stock image of hunting hounds

The Kimblewick Hunt have had to take drastic action to stop the spread of deadly bovine tuberculous as pack hounds are discovered with the rare disease.

The Masters of Foxhounds Association [MFHA], the foxhunting governing body, said the hunt immediately suspended its activities to protect farmers and landowners.

A statement from the Kimblewick Hunt said: "On 10th December 2016, one hound from the Kimblewick Hunt was suspected of having contracted bTB [bovine tuberculosis]. Subsequently further tests were carried out on other hounds within the pack during December.

"Following receipt of post-mortem results and tissue cultures on 31st January 2017 bTB was confirmed. Since then, approximately 25 hounds have been euthanised.

"The full pack of hounds has not been euthanised. There are over 120 hounds remaining in kennels which continue to be monitored closely and testing is ongoing.

"Defra was notified immediately that bTB was suspected in December and the Kimblewick Hunt have subsequently acted upon all advice they have been given with regards to implementing increased biosecurity measures in order to ensure it is contained.

"The Kimblewick voluntarily and immediately suspended hunting activities with their own hounds on 11th December.

"The Kimblewick hounds have not been in contact with any other packs of hounds since the initial case was suspected, and a monitoring and testing protocol has been rolled out across the country.

The Kimblewick Hunt has been working alongside Defra, Animal and Plant Health Agency [APHA], Public Health England and the Masters of Foxhounds Association [MFHA] in order to ensure that bTB has been contained. No other cases have been reported.

BVA [British Veterinary Association] president Gudrun Ravetz added: “Mycobacterium bovis infections in dogs have rarely been recorded and the risk of infection to other dogs and family pets is very low.”

The statement from Kimblewick Hunt added added: "The hunt - like many others across the country - operates a fallen stock service to farmers under the guidance of DEFRA [Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs]. The Kimblewick hounds are routinely fed fallen stock in compliance with current animal by-products legislation.

"We are waiting for Animal and Plant Health Agency's epidemiology report that might give details of the source of infection, however it would appear that it is most likely that the hounds contracted it from eating meat from a contaminated bovine.

"Testing continues on the Kimblewick hounds in line with advice given from veterinary and scientific experts during this very difficult time for the hunt staff and their families."

Polly Portwin, Head of Hunting from the Countryside Alliance said: "This has been a particularly difficult time for the hunt staff, their families and all those associated with the Kimblewick hounds and our thoughts are with them. We understand that testing is ongoing and that the hunt is working with Defra and the relevant statutory bodies to ensure that the infection is contained and eradicated."

An investigation is being carried out by the APHA to find the origin of the infection.