The BCG vaccine is frequently mentioned as the most common vaccine to help protect against TB. It has been used to protect people from the human form of the disease, although more recently in the UK the vaccination programme has been stopped owing to its poor cost effectiveness. An injectable form has recently been licensed for use on badgers. Could it be used for cattle? Is it a reliable vaccination and has it helped prevent the human form of TB?
9 Dec 2016, 11:43 AM
The 'Save Me' Trust calls for an evaluation of the role of badger vaccination, alongside a proper review of the effectiveness, if any, of badger culls on bovine TB in cattle.
It also draws attention to the fact that it is no longer possible to believe that badgers are the main cause of the spread of the disease, or even a significant component of its transmission. The principal mechanism of reinfection now being confirmed to be in undetected, infectious cattle in the herds themselves.
In the latest research revealed this week on Bovine TB management, science has once again put an end to speculation - with the ZSL’s new paper published this week - ‘Ranging behaviour of badgers Meles meles vaccinated with Bacillus Calmette Guerin’.
Two years ago, a cattle vet in Devon speculated that vaccinating badgers might disrupt their behaviour, thus spreading TB to new areas. His ideas were based on no evidence at all; nevertheless they were repeated in the media as though they were facts, undermining support for badger vaccination.
Research published today by the Zoological Society of London confirms that vaccination, in fact, has no detectable effect on badger behaviour. In the ZSL experiment, badgers were trapped, vaccinated and released, and were subsequently tracked with GPS collars. It was found that they travelled no further than those which had not been vaccinated.
This is encouraging news for badgers and cattle alike. ZSL’s research confirms that vaccination does not have the same potential to increase the incidence of TB in cattle as culling. Culling DOES disrupt badger behaviour and, while it’s now also clear that badgers are at most a very small part of the re-infection of cattle herds, scientists believe that the Government’s present policy of culling badgers is likely to make matters worse.
ZSL’s new research shows that vaccination has no negative effects. Undisrupted, ‘normal' badger behaviour sees badgers in tightly defined communities, which give the best opportunity for vaccination to be effective. Since vaccination is also cheaper and more publicly acceptable, the choice between vaccination and culling should be straightforward. Bovine TB is a major problem for British cattle farmers, so TB control efforts must be based on the best available evidence. Hopefully, this new research will encourage proper studies of the role that vaccination could play in TB control.
However, to put this in perspective, recent evidence confirms the fact that transmission of TB has very little to do with badgers. At least 96 per cent of re-infection is due to undetected carriers of the bTB Micobacterium in the herd. Current Government policy forces farmers to rely on the infamous skin test to detect and remove infected cows, a course of action which is demonstrably failing. Only an enhanced testing regime can give hope to farmers who are, at present, locked in a hopeless situation.
We must review all the new available science and remove this expensive, ill fated and ineffective policy. It doesn't support the science, the badgers, the cattle or the farmers.
14 Nov 2016, 6:43 PM
From his questions asked in parliament, Rob Marris MP has discovered that the development of a tuberculosis vaccine for cattle has been sacrificed in favour of a costly compensation scheme for farmers.
Since 1998 the government has paid out an £341 million1 in compensation to farmers for the slaughter of cattle infected with TB, but has spent only £35 million on research to develop a vaccination and associated diagnostics. (2)
Rob Marris said: “Prevention is better than cure for both farmer and badger – yet these astonishing figures indicate a skewed set of priorities. Since 1998, government has spent on average £19 million per year in compensation and only £1.9 million on research.3 If the government keeps focussing on compensating farmers at the expense of developing a vaccine, we’ll all end up paying out for evermore.”
The development of a vaccination would help both farmers and badgers – animals which are currently facing the largest ever cull, with the government recently announcing a tripling of the areas where badgers can be culled.
The loss of cattle can be heart-breaking for farmers, and is not a short-term problem. Nor can it be solved through compensation. According to the ‘Farm Crisis Network’, slaughter can have a longer term impact on the growth of a farm, and only one third of farmers said the compensation covered the loss.(4)
Mr Marris commented: “It is right that there is a compensation scheme for farmers whose cattle are devastated by the spread of TB, but it is wrong that the government spends such a relatively small amount of funding into a viable vaccination. That discrepancy must not continue. There is a clear economic argument to implement a stronger policy of ‘prevention’ (vaccination) rather than the ‘cure’ (compensation) which is costing the taxpayers tens of millions a year.”
Dominic Dyer CEO of the Badger Trust & Policy Adviser Born Free Foundation said:
"Trials in Ethiopia and Mexico have shown that a TB vaccine could be 58-68% effective in preventing the spread of bovine TB in cattle. For the past 5 years the government has stated it will trial a TB cattle vaccine in the UK. In 2014 Defra commissioned a consortium including Triveritas UK, scientists from the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency and Cambridge University to design field trials in the UK.
“Triveritas, which specialises in undertaking livestock field trials, was to design the trial for the vaccine together with a new diagnostic test for differentiating between infected and immunised cows
“Despite the importance of developing an TB cattle vaccine, Defra announced in 2015 that it had called off the trial on cost grounds.
“This decision causing anger and concern in both the farming and wildlife conservation sectors. However the government has made no new commitment to move forward with a TB cattle vaccine trial since the 2015 General Election.
“We are now calling on the Defra Secretary of State Andrea Leadson to urgently move forward with a TB cattle vaccine in the UK, as this will provide a highly effective means of lowering the spread of bovine TB in cattle, without having to waste tens of millions of pounds of public money on a scientifically ineffective and cruel badger cull.”
1 George Eustice MP. 2016. Written questions and answers. [ONLINE] Available at: parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/writtenquestionsanswers/?page=1&max=20& questiontype=AllQuestions&house=commons%2clords&member=1468. [Accessed 3 November 2016]. 2 George Eustice MP. 2016. Bovine Tuberculosis: Disease Control. [ONLINE] Available at: parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/writtenquestion/Commons/2016-10-26/50605. [Accessed 28 October 2016]. 3 George Eustice MP to Robert Marris MP, October 19, 2016, Bovine Tuberculosis Letter, DEFRA Ref: MC412912/AD 4 Farming Community Network. 2009. Stress and Loss: A report on the impact of bovine TB on farming families. [ONLINE] Available at: tbfreeengland.co.uk/assets/4200. [Accessed 1 November 2016].
18 Dec 2015, 4:12 PM
The Dorset Badger Vaccination Project (DBVP) has been halted because of a world shortage of the vaccine. The government said it would suspend the sourcing of the BCG vaccine, which protects against bovine TB, because the formula is also used in the human jab.
In 2015, 156 badgers were vaccinated against bovine TB in Dorset. Nearly five times that number were culled.DBVP said it hoped supplies would be restored before the end of 2016 to allow the programme to resume. The suspension follows World Health Organisation advice to countries to limit the use of the vaccine, which uses the same formula used to protect humans from tuberculosis.
2 Dec 2015, 6:10 PM
Government must take urgent action to support continuation of badger vaccination
The Badger Trust has today called on the Environment Secretary Liz Truss to take urgent action to secure the future of badger vaccination projects in England in 2016, following a decision by the Welsh Government to halt badger vaccination in Wales, due to a global shortage of the BCG vaccine.
In 2015 DEFRA started its new Badger Edge Vaccination Scheme (BEVS) working with the Badger Trust, Wildlife Trusts and farming and landowning organisations to support badger vaccination in areas outside the bovine TB high risk area. This new scheme has seen a significant level of public funds used to support badger vaccination projects across England including Derbyshire, Cheshire, Oxfordshire and Hampshire as part of DEFRA’s 25 year TB eradication strategy.
Responding to the Welsh Government decision to halt badger vaccination in 2016, Dominic Dyer CEO of the Badger Trust said:
“We fully understand the need to ensure the first priority for BCG vaccine is for human use, but we have been saying for months that DEFRA should do more to find alternative TB vaccine supplies to support the extension of badger vaccination in England, particularly under the publicly funded BEVS scheme.
To date over £20 million has been wasted on a badger cull policy which is failing on scientific, humaneness and cost grounds, but no effective steps have been taken to maintain a sufficient supply of TB vaccines to allow the continuation of badger vaccination projects.
Badger vaccination is scientifically proven to significantly reduce the spread of TB in TB free badgers and to reduce the spread of the disease in new born cubs and should be given a high priority along with bio security and cattle control measures.
The Badger Trust is therefore calling on the Environment Secretary Liz Truss to hold an urgent meeting of all the key stakeholders involved in badger vaccination in England, to put in place an action plan to ensure sufficient BCG vaccines are available for use in 2016 and beyond”
Microbiologists to use ‘reverse vaccinology’ to combat Johne's disease, bovine TB
A new $7 million research project led by UBC and University of Saskatchewan microbiologists will use 'reverse vaccinology' in an attempt to develop vaccines for Johne's disease and bovine tuberculosis in cattle. The diseases result in annual losses of $100 million in Canada and billions annually worldwide. Another key facet of the project is investigating public perceptions and industrial readiness, the commercialization strategies and regulatory framework and support systems.
Infectious diseases continue to be a leading cause of sickness and death in livestock and can be transferred to humans. Vaccination is the most cost-effective means of preventing infectious disease in animals and humans, but its application to livestock is still limited and the lack of effective vaccines contributes to the excessive use of antibiotics in animal health.
"The process of reverse vaccinology provides a much more efficient and effective method of developing vaccines, through the parallel identification and expression of every possible antigen, while simultaneously screening for vaccine potential," says UBC microbiologist Bob Hancock.
"Another key facet of the project is investigating public perceptions and industrial readiness, the commercialization strategies and regulatory framework and support systems.”
The Genome British Columbia and Genome Canada funded project, led by Hancock and Saskatchewan's Andrew Potter, plans to start field testing within four-years.
"Genome BC's earlier investment into this project through our Strategic Opportunities Fund enabled the team to take a first step -- producing antigens -- that demonstrated that their reverse vaccinology approach would work," says Alan Winter, president and CEO of Genome British Columbia.
“It's gratifying to have both regional and federal investment into this important research because it will make a difference in ensuring a safe and healthy food supply for future generations."
The vaccines developed through this project will benefit dairy and beef cattle farmers, the public who utilize their products and the commercial sector, both in terms of marketable vaccines, increased food and dairy product output, and international trade. Direct economic losses to livestock producers are large, but these are dwarfed by the losses associated with international trade restrictions as has been seen in Canada with mad cow disease, avian influenza and other diseases.
The project was funded through Genome Canada's 2014 Large-Scale Applied Research Project Competition: Genomics and Feeding the Future. Other funding partners include the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac), the University of Saskatchewan's Office of the Vice-President Research, and the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute.
A WEST Somerset farmer has called on the government to rethink its “failed” policy to tackle Bovine TB.
Michael Reed, a fifth generation Exmoor farmer, slammed the current “slaughter and culling” programme and urged the government to fast track a cattle vaccine.
Mr Reed, who runs Higher Ranscombe farm, spoke of the distress he and other farmers faced having to watch their herds being decimated.
“It is heart-breaking to see cows being carted away especially when they have young calves,” he said.
“What makes it worse is very often the TB test results are inconclusive but the cows are taken away anyway. I ask for a re-test but the officials aren’t interested.”
Mr Reed, whose family has been farming on Exmoor for over 200 years, added: “All that’s happening just now is culling badgers and slaughtering cattle.
It’s a failed policy but the government is just carrying on with it.” Mr Reed said his 200 acre farm had been clear of BTB for three years. However, in March two cows tested positive while four others had inconclusive tests but were still slaughtered.
The culling of badgers is not taking place on National Trust land.
As a major landowner with many farming tenants, the NT understands how devastating an outbreak of bovine TB can be. They have found a practical solution. They ran a successful four year project at Killerton in Devon to see how badger vaccination could be deployed over a large area. They are now working with the Government’s Animal and Plant Health Agency to make Killerton a national training school for the vaccination of badgers.
The NT says; 'Vaccination needs to be part of the mix of measures needed to tackle bovine TB. We’d like to see the Government working with partners to carry out further testing to show its effectiveness as part of a multi-pronged approach to tackling the disease based on the best available scientific evidence, which includes better testing and surveillance of cattle and stricter biosecurity (i.e. keeping badgers and cattle apart)'.
'We’ve had concerns about how the two pilot culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire are being run but their success or failure will only become clear when the four years of the cull are completed. Our concerns mean that we don’t support rolling out culls to other areas which may affect our properties, including the cull in Dorset which began in September 2015, and we aren’t allowing culling on our land. This includes not allowing it on National Trust land that is leased to tenants.'
With regards to badgers and bovine TB in Wales and Northern Ireland theTrust says; 'Culling is only taking place in England. The policy of the Welsh government focuses on more rigorous and frequent testing, the closer control of cattle movements and vaccination of badgers and we’ve been strongly supportive of this approach.'
'In Northern Ireland, we’ve been broadly supportive of the Test, Vaccinate Remove trial and we’re very interested in the outcomes of the five year programme which is designed to provide locally relevant scientific evidence to inform decision making.'
Info from: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/article-1356398760842/
10 Sep 2015, 10:06 AM
A group of volunteers has vaccinated more than 100 badgers against bovine TB since May as an alternative to culling.
The Dorset Badger Vaccination Project traps the animals in cages and administers an injection.
Sue Aldous said vaccinations will continue until 31 October. Licences were granted by Natural England.
Ms Aldous said it costs about £100 per badger to vaccinate, compared to reported culling costs of more than £6,700 per animal.
A badger cull recently started in Dorset following pilots in Gloucestershire and Somerset.
Ms Aldous said: "We are in the business of healthy badgers and healthy cattle, we want to prevent bovine TB and we have chosen to do it in this way." Fellow vaccinator Martyn Johnston said it was "cheap, humane and works".
In "edge" areas, where bovine TB is not prevalent, unlike Dorset, vaccination programmes are supported by the government. A spokesman for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: "Based on the advice of the chief vet we are adopting a measured approach which already includes vaccinating badgers in areas at risk from the spread of bovine TB, as well as tightened cattle testing and movement controls and culling where the disease is widespread.
EU wrote to Defra 2 years ago supporting moves to start UK field trials of cattle vaccination, now it just needs the political will. Defra suggested to us that a derogation could be applied for. A common route around EU rules. As usual, little progress to date as the preferred option is to cull badgers and introduce even tighter rules and regulations for farmers!
29 Jun 2015, 12:45 PM
A farmer who broke down in tears at the Royal Three Counties Show after his prize-winning cow tested positive for Bovine TB has criticised the Government for failing to develop an effective cattle vaccine.
David Knight, who has a 240-strong herd of British Blonde cattle at Oakham Farm, Portbury, near Bristol, was overcome with emotion and wept in the show ring as the reality of the diagnosis sank in.
He has now spoken out about the issue and told the Western Daily Press that politicians were guilty of a "failure of political will" in tackling the disease.
Many millions of taxpayers' money has been poured into work on a cattle vaccine, but so far the experts insist that an effective product is at least a decade away.
Meanwhile the controversial badger cull in the high incidence areas of West Gloucestershire and West Somerset will continue, as part of a package of measures to combat the disease which has cost the taxpayer and the farming community many millions of pounds.
"There is so much said about the badger cull, but there hasn't been enough said about this brainless slaughter that we have to make of cattle," said Mr Knight.
"If the political will was there to use a vaccine I think the drug companies would create one overnight. There is just no political will for it."
One of the problems besetting scientists is that at the moment it is not possible to differentiate between a vaccinated animal and a diseased animal.
Mr Knight said: "Over the last 30 years despite everything the situation has got worse, not better. If we only had a vaccine we could control our own destinies a bit.
OPEN LETTER TO NIGEL GIBBENS, UK CHIEF VETERINARY OFFICER FROM NFA
Network For Animals have today approached UK Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens, to request an update on his December 2014 DEFRA report, which advised the Pilot Badger Cull in Gloucestershire should be cancelled in 2015 if improvements are not made on specific criteria.
23rd June 2015
Dear Mr Gibbens,
As the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer, the final point in your official DEFRA review of the 2014 Pilot Badger Culls advised that culling shouldn’t continue in Gloucestershire in 2015 without improvements being made to contractor training and assessment, improved operational planning, monitoring and delivery:
“7. Given the lower level of badger population reduction in the Gloucestershire cull area over the past two years, the benefits of reducing disease in cattle over the planned four year cull may not be realised there. Culling should continue there in 2015 provided there are reasonable grounds for confidence that it can be carried out more effectively that year through measures of the kind mentioned in paragraph 2…
…2. Continued action is needed to increase levels of confidence in the effectiveness of any future culls, for example through contractor training and assessment, improved operational planning, monitoring and delivery.”
Please can you describe how the criteria you have specified have been improved, or alternatively if the cull will now be withdrawn from Gloucestershire in 2015 following your advice?
The government body that must determine the future of badger culling in the battle against bovine TB has refuted claims that farmers’ hopes of an extension to the cull had been dashed
Dominic Dyer, CEO of the Badger Trust, claimed answers given by Natural England to a Freedom of Information request signalled there would be no cull roll-out this year.
Natural England (NE) told the Trust's leader Mr Dyer that it had “not accepted nor is it considering any new applications for licences for culls to begin in 2015”. But a spokeswoman for NE said there had been “several expressions of interest” for a roll-out and that formal applications to extend the cull were expected to follow.
Farmers leaders are angry that so far Defra has failed to make an announcement on rolling out the cull to bovine TB hotspots. Dorset, Devon and Cornwall were all expected to be areas earmarked for culling in the next round. Pilot culls in West Somerset and Gloucestershire are due to re-start in the autumn but livestock farmers want the go-ahead to cull more widely to bring bovine TB under control. More than 30,000 cattle are still being slaughtered annually as a result of the disease and farm leaders say culling has been shown to work in reducing disease in herds.
But Mr Dyer said he understood senior officials in Defra had warned ministers that extending the cull was “out of the question.” He said costs – Defra have spent an estimated £15 million so far – and pressure to switch from shooting free running badgers to more costly cage-trapping and killing, as recommended by vets, put the whole policy under threat. He went on: “The view coming through from Defra is that the best that can be achieved is completion of the four year pilot with no extensions, followed by a complete review of the policy looking at all the key scientific, economic and humaneness issues before ministers make any decision on its possible rollout to other areas.” Yet Mr Dyer’s assessment appeared to fly in the face of statements from Defra Secretary Liz Truss and Farming Minister George Eustice. Both repeatedly told farmers at agricultural shows in South West over the last three weeks they were committed to culling as part of their 25-year TB eradication policy – though they declined to say where and when rollouts would occur.
Last week, in response to pressure from the National Farmers’ Union for ministers to move on a rollout Defra said the culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire will continue this year. And in a direct response the Badger Trust claims a Defra spokesman added: “Expressions of interest in extending the cull have been made to Natural England from a number of areas which will be considered in due course. The Government is committed to our strategy of making England free of bovine TB, of which culling badgers in areas where the disease is rife is a key element.”
Minette Batters, deputy president of the NFU and a South West beef farmer, said last night: “Once again Dominic Dyer appears to have chosen to cherry pick bits of information in an attempt to generate a story where one doesn’t exist.
“The response that Mr Dyer refers to clearly states that Natural England may consider any applications for licences that are submitted subject to the government making a decision on extending the policy to other areas. The NFU is calling for a decision on further roll out to be made as a matter of urgency. However, Mr Dyer has chosen to only focus on part of the response and interpret it as confirmation there will be no roll-out this year, which it clearly isn’t.”
Landowners in Cheshire are working collaboratively in a bid to take action against the spread of bovine tuberculosis in wildlife and livestock and reduce the risk the disease poses to the livelihoods of their tenant farmers.
The Eaton Estate, Bolesworth Estate, Peckforton Estate and part of Cholmondeley Estate, will work together to vaccinate badgers over the next four years across almost 86 km2 of the county’s countryside.
It is believed to be the first successful application to the Government’s Badger Edge Vaccination Scheme by a group of private landowners and represents one of the largest areas covered by the programme in the country. The estates will match fund the £165,000 grant which has been awarded by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra).
Edwin Christmas, Estate Director at Eaton Estate, said: “We believe the vaccination scheme is the best option available to us at this time. It’s a big commitment from a group of private landowners but we recognise that we need to take action to help safe guard the livelihoods of our tenant farmers against the risk of bovine TB and in the current rural climate the consortium felt they had to take action.”
Over a fifth of infected cattle found at slaughter? The skin test is not adequate. When will cattle vaccination be an option? Yet again badger culling has taken attention away from the most viable solution.
so, more delay - the DIVA test is apparently not up to it.
'We have continued to invest in TB research and I am today publishing a summary of the research that we are funding this year. Over this Parliament, we have invested over £24 million into TB vaccine research. An independent report on the design of field trials of cattle vaccine and a test to detect infected cattle among vaccinated cattle (DIVA) shows that before cattle vaccination field trials can be contemplated, we need to develop a better DIVA test. This research is likely to take a further two years. We are also investing in research on badger diagnostics and improving epidemiological analysis of the disease, while the dairy industry is progressing Defra-funded research potentially to enable farmers to breed cattle with greater genetic resistance to TB. '
20 Jan 2015, 6:22 PM
How do you vaccinate a badger?
Inside Out is broadcast on BBC One South West on Monday, 19 January at 19:30 GMT and nationwide for 30 days thereafter on the iPlayer
BBC Inside Out follows the badger vaccination team in west Cornwall as they test whether vaccination could be an effective alternative to culling.
4 Dec 2014, 10:08 AM
Badger Vaccination Grant opens for applications BUT STIILL NO SIGN OF A VACCINE FOR CATTLE!
A grant to support privately delivered badger vaccination projects in Wales has opened for applications for the second year, Rebecca Evans the Deputy Minister for Farming and Food has announced
The Badger Vaccination Grant provides farmers, landowners and others who wish to vaccinate badgers against TB with the opportunity to benefit from financial support covering up to half their costs.
Rebecca Evans said:
“The latest statistics continue to indicate a downward trend for bovine TB in Wales. This is thanks to the suite of measures we have introduced as part of our eradication programme and co-operation between the Welsh Government and the industry.
“The good work being done to vaccinate badgers in the Intensive Action Area has been well documented and this grant allows groups or individuals to vaccinate badgers in other parts of Wales.
“As a result of last years badger vaccination grant, there are currently seven privately run vaccination projects benefiting from funding and I hope to see more approved following this application window.”
The application window will run until March 2015. Successful applicants can receive up to 50% of the eligible costs of badger vaccination, with a total of £1.25m available over the next five years.
‘We may never eradicate bovine TB in England’ – Defra chief scientist but yet again why is there is no mention of cattle vaccination?
Speaking at an NFU conference on bovine TB on Monday (17 November), Professor Ian Boyd said it was unlikely that England would ever be able to eradicate the disease completely.
“Truly, do we think we can eradicate TB from England? Almost certainly not,” he told delegates at the union’s headquarters in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire.
“Getting rid of it completely is probably not possible. But we can get it to the levels where we have officially TB-free status.”
Prof Boyd said it would “take decades” for the country to reach this status and no one should underestimate the difficulty of the task that lies ahead. But he remained confident that England could achieve officially TB-free status by 2038.
What about cattle vaccination?
6 Sep 2014, 11:02 AM
Bovine TB is considered to be a major problem in both the developed and developing world. r.
In most developed countries bovine TB is not really a health risk as milk is heat treated which destroys any bacteria. However, in India almost 70% of milk sold is processed by the unorganised sector where hygienic practices are not guaranteed. Bovine TB screening and control is also ineffective due to unrestricted animal movements and for socioeconomic and cultural reasons.
Johnjoe McFadden, Professor of Molecular Genetics, is leading a project which has secured £981,717 funding from the BBSRC (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council) and the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) in India to investigate this problem. The project is set to last for three years, with £676,509 of the funding allocated for work in the UK and £305,208 for work in India.
The team, consisting of experts from the University of Surrey, the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) and the Health Protection Agency (HPA) in the UK, as well as academics from two Indian institutions, aims to develop a cheaper diagnostic test for bovine TB and a vaccine that could be used alongside it.
The project could revolutionise the control of bovine TB, with huge benefits to the economy, as well as livestock and human health – particularly in India.
The team is seeking to delete some of the antigens in the BCG to develop a minus strain and replace the existing skin test (which detects all of the antigens TB produces) with one that detects only a limited number of antigens, those eliminated from the minus strain BCG. This means that the test would only show a positive result if infection with the TB bacillus was detected.
Utilising our academics’ expertise in the field of genetics and proteomics, research at Surrey will focus on identifying which genes to knock out from the BCG - to ensure that any knock-out genes don’t impact the effectiveness of the BCG - and designing the diagnostic.
The research will also benefit from the recent establishment of the University's School of Veterinary Medicine, which has a strong focus on developing new control strategies for veterinary disease, such as bovine tuberculosis.
Professor McFadden said: “While other labs are looking for BCG plus strains, we’re doing the opposite and looking at minus strains, to make the vaccine more compatible with affordable diagnostics.
“If a suitable new vaccine and diagnostic test can be developed for use in India, it could potentially be transferred to the UK (subject to relevant legislation changes) or even translated for use in humans, avoiding the need for an X-ray to confirm diagnosis following a positive test for TB.”
Read more about the Infectious Diseases Research Group and how Surrey research could lead to a quicker cure for TB.
As the expensive, unpopular and ineffective badger culling continues we hear that the Government has confirmed that the TB vaccine field trials have been delayed until 2015. This is appalling. It is a shame that the effort put into badger culling is not, instead put into vaccination - surely a more acceptable and effective option bearing in mind the field trials in Ethiopia and Mexico have suggested that the protective effect of vaccination was between 58% and 68%?
Extensive field trials were due to begin in the UK this year, but they have been pushed back amid continued discussions over the cost of the project.
The field trial costs are estimated at “tens of millions of pounds”, a spokesman for the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency said.
However, despite the delay, the AHVLA said the government was still “100% committed” to staging field trials in this country.
Defra has commissioned a consortium, including Triveritas UK, scientists from the AHVLA and Cambridge University, to design field trials of a vaccine to protect cattle against TB.
Triveritas, which specialises in clinical trials in livestock, will design the field trials as well as a trial for a new cattle TB diagnostic test – known as a DIVA test – which is needed to distinguish between infected cows and cows that have been immunised.
The trial design work, which is expected to be completed this autumn, will be subject to the granting of an Animal Test Certificate (ATC) by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD).
The certificate is required to permit field trials of an otherwise unauthorised vaccine in the UK.
An AHVLA spokesman insisted that the trials would start in 2015 but “were likely to depend upon a positive cost analysis of the use of a cattle vaccine and DIVA test contributing to the control of bovine TB in the UK”.
Defra has said developing a TB vaccine for cattle and badgers remains a “high priority” in its 25-year bovine TB eradication programme.
Small-scale field trials in Ethiopia and Mexico have suggested that the protective effect of vaccination was between 58% and 68%. But confirmation of effectiveness in UK conditions will need to be confirmed by large-scale field trials in England and Wales.
Vaccination of cattle against TB is currently prohibited by EU legislation, principally because BCG (Bacille Calmette Guerin) vaccination can interfere with the tuberculin skin test, the most commonly used diagnostic test for TB in cattle.
Meanwhile, a recent review of research into TB vaccination in cattle and badgers warned that developing vaccines for tackling the problem was “challenging, time-consuming and resource-intensive”. As millions of pounds have already been spent on vaccination projects one wonders just what has been achieved from past work?
The review, published in the Veterinary Record, said Defra and the Welsh government were working with the European Commission to enable vaccination of cattle to be conducted in UK field trials, in order to “change the legislation on the use of cattle TB vaccines in the medium to long term”.
It added: “The field trials of cattle vaccine offer significant benefits through better understanding of vaccine efficacy and DIVA test characteristics, but also face substantial challenges relating to legal and practical delivery.
“Given the likely large scale of the vaccine field trial, they will need to be supported by a strong cost-benefit case. The ultimate endpoint of using BCG in cattle without trade restrictions may not be achieved until 2023.”
In this parliament (2010-15), the coalition government is spending £24.6m on the development of cattle and badger TB vaccines.
This relates to the Welsh programme of badger vaccination which superseded the original proposals to cull badgers in the Intensive Action Area. The programme and procedures were built on the abandoned cull plans and surveys.Paragraphs 66 and 67 explain the bad weather trapping procedure. It is clear from careful reading of these paragraphs that the standard was far higher than in the cull zones in England.
Rates of bTB in Wales have been falling steadily- outbreaks of the disease had fallen 21% in the past 12-months. 8% of farms are suffering from a TB breakdown, but the majority of farms are not affected including a high number of farms, in the highest incident areas, that have never had an incident.
23 Jul 2014, 1:38 PM
GOVERNMENT LAUNCHES BADGER EDGE VACCINATION SCHEME (BEVS) Press release from Badger Trust
The Badger Trust and Care For The Wild have welcomed this initiative which will enable charities and other organisations to apply for funding for the vaccination of badgers in bovine TB (bTB) hotspot areas. This largely bovine-borne disease necessitates the slaughter of thousands of cattle each year and while the percentage of infectious badgers is low, their vaccination over a 4-year period will build herd immunity within the badger population without creating the stress caused by culling, which in turn increases the risk of perturbation. The areas concerned are Hampshire, East Sussex, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Warwickshire, Derbyshire and Cheshire. The creation of a stable badger population in a ring or “edge” round the bTB hotspot areas minimises the risk of disturbed badgers fleeing and other possibly infected animals moving in. This reduces the risk of bTB spreading beyond the edge area and will enable Government and landowners to focus on cattle based measures for controlling bTB.
Dominic Dyer, CEO of the Badger Trust and Policy Advisor at Care for the Wild, said: “It’s great to see the government pushing ahead with this scheme We were helping to evolve a similar plan a year or more ago so it’s fantastic that this scheme has taken shape and is being given the full backing of Defra.
“Badgers are no more than a minor player when it comes to bTB, as the latest evidence suggests they are responsible for at most 6% of new outbreaks. Culling them is a completely pointless, unscientific and ultimately unsuccessful way of dealing with this small percentage of infectious badgers. Focussing on badger vaccination in these key areas is the way forward. It would be a real seal of approval to this policy if the new Environment Minister Liz Truss chaired the next BEVS stakeholder meeting on 6th August, to underline the Government’s intentions.
“What we mustn’t do is allow this new initiative to take our eyes off the key facts – the vast majority of new outbreaks of bTB come from cattle, not badgers. The test used to detect bTB in cattle misses 1 in 5. This means there are thousands of infected cattle hiding in herds, often until they die, spreading the disease without anyone knowing. We need to get on top of the testing, and on cattle movements which allow the di
4 Jul 2014, 7:54 PM
New report says says that 10 per cent of farms were acting as “super-spreaders” because they moved animals around frequently. Academics from the universities concluded that the only way to halt the disease was through culls of entire herds of diseased animals, on the scale of those seen in the foot and mouth outbreak.
But that would mean 20 times more animals being killed than are slaughtered each year at present. They said that the best way to halt the disease is through widespread testing and VACCINATION programmes or culling infected herds.Culling cattle, not badgers, 'only way to stop bovine TB'.
Culling badgers will have “little impact” on the spread of the disease in livestock, researchers from Cambridge and Warwick universities have found.
Researchers studying the spread of bovine TB over the past 15 years found that infected cows brought to a farm were the most likely cause of the disease.
Prof Matthew Keeling said: “We find only three controls have the power to reverse the current increase in cases, more frequent or more accurate testing, vaccination of cattle and culling all cattle on infected farms.”
The researchers used data from the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency and government figures to study the transmission between farms and within a single farm.
The results indicate that 84 per cent of outbreaks are caused by the movement of infected cattle, by infected fields or wildlife and by the failure of tests to detect diseased cattle. Although environmental factors, including contact with badgers, caused some infections, they did not explain the rapid spread of the disease. Bovine TB costs farmers about £100 million a year. There has been a fourfold increase in the number of cattle slaughtered due to TB in the past 17 years. In 1998, about 6,000 cows were slaughtered due to TB in England. By 2013 this had risen to 26,603 cattle killed.
The co-author of the report, Dr Ellen Brooks-Pollock, a researcher at Cambridge University, said: “It is most likely both cattle movements and the local environment are driving the front of the epidemic. Imperfect cattle skin tests contribute to the spread by delaying the time until infected herds are detected and incorrectly identifying herds as clear of infection. Only a small number of farms spread the infection and they can cause the majority of new cases.” The study, published in the journal Nature, showed that the most likely cause of the disease’s spread is a small number of farms that send cows to other farms without properly testing them first.
Mr Dominic Dyer, CEO of the Badger Trust, has accused the government of not doing enough to seek an EU derogation to allow cattle vaccination field trials in the UK.
“We keep hearing cattle vaccination is a 10-year timetable, but Wales’ chief veterinary officer Christianne Glossop said we could be vaccinating cattle within the next couple of years and we need to get on with it.”