News has broken that bovine tuberculosis (bTB) has been confirmed in the Kimblewick hounds.

The Kimblewick, whose kennels are near Aylesbury, Bucks, suspended hunting in December as soon as bTB was suspected to be present in the pack. Its country has been hunted by visiting packs since then, and its hounds have not come into contact with others.

A statement from the Masters of Foxhounds Association said: “Bovine tuberculosis was suspected in hounds at the Kimblewick in December (and subsequently confirmed at the end of January).

“Defra  has not imposed any movement or other restrictions, as it does not consider that there is any increased risk to wildlife and farm stock.  However, the hunt immediately suspended hunting in the interests of farmers and landowners and the wider hunting interest.

“There is only one recently recorded case of a dog with bTB in England, some four years ago.  The Kimblewick and the Hunting Office are working closely with officials from Defra, the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), Public Health England and the Royal Dick Veterinary School (Edinburgh), other vets with specialist expertise in bTB in order to determine the exact position and the best way forward.”

The hunt is waiting for APHA’s epidemiology report, which should give details of the likely source of infection, but it would appear that hounds have contracted bTB from eating contaminated flesh.

Hounds were fed fallen stock in compliance with current animal by-products legislation. Hounds confirmed to have bTB have been humanely put down.

A spokesman for 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.”

Gerald Sumner has hunted the Kimblewick for 11 seasons, and has spent the past five as a joint-master. He moves to the East Sussex and Romney Marsh next season.