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?
5 Jun 2013, 1:44 PM
The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee has published its report today on progress to develop a vaccine solution for bovine TB. The quality of the information provided has not been good enough.
'Our inquiry has shown that the quality of information in the public domain about the availability of the cattle vaccine and oral badger vaccine and the efficacy of the injectable badger vaccine has not been good enough. There is a great deal of interest in this subject and the Government can do better in satisfying it.'
'During the last 18 months the debate on the availability of a cattle vaccine for bovine TB has been characterised by a lack of clarity and public misunderstanding. Although it is by no means solely responsible, the Government must accept a great deal of the blame for this. The quality and accuracy of the information that Defra has put in the public domain has been insufficient and inadequate. It is unfortunate that this has led to debate over the timetable for use of the vaccine overshadowing scientific breakthroughs in the development of both the vaccine and DIVA test that should be applauded. '
Over recent months it is clear that the Government has recognised that it should do more to inform the public. Professor Boyd told us that the Government is working on a TB eradication strategy that will show ‘all the methods that are available for eradication, when they are going to come on line and what their contribution is going to be to the ultimate eradication of TB.’26 We await publication of the TB eradication strategy with interest and expect it to include not only information on those methods that are available for the eradication of bovine TB but progress on those in development. The launch of the strategy must be accompanied by a public information campaign to make the position clear in the public’s mind and dispel misunderstanding. '
5 Jun 2013, 1:39 PM
The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee has published its report today on progress to develop a vaccine solution for bovine TB. With the current failings of the existing skin test (acknowledged elsewhere), cattle movements will always risk spreading the disease elsewhere whatever other measures are introduced:
'For too long the Government’s strategy for dealing with bovine TB has been reactive and followed the spread of infection. The increase in cases of bovine TB in cattle demonstrates that the Government needs a strategy that will jump ahead of infection. Cattle vaccination is a tool that may allow it to do that in the future but for now increased bio-security and rigorous movement controls are vital. It will be no good vaccinating badgers to create a firewall against the spread of infection only for it to be compromised by movement of infected cattle.'
5 Jun 2013, 11:18 AM
The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee has published its report today on progress to develop a vaccine solution for bovine TB.
Launching the report, (Vaccination against bovine TB, HC 258) Anne McIntosh MP, EFRA Committee Chair said:
“While progress to develop vaccines is clearly being made, debate on this subject has been characterised by lack of clarity leading to poor public understanding. The Government must share a great deal of the blame for this.
“The Government is right to invest millions of pounds in developing vaccines against bovine TB. We should use every tool to combat this disease, but vaccination alone will not, at least in the short-term, provide a complete solution. Vaccines have no impact on already infected animals, offer a range of protection to those that aren’t infected, and will be expensive to deploy.”
Successive governments have invested more than £43 million on vaccine research and development since 1994. By the end of the current spending review period, Defra will have spent a further £15 million. Deployment of the injectable badger vaccine will cost an estimated £2,000-£4,000 per km2. The cattle vaccine is expected to cost £5-6 per dose and the DIVA test (which differentiates between infected and vaccinated cattle) costs £25, in addition to existing testing costs.
A vaccine for cattle
Timetable for use
In January 2013 the European Commission set out an indicative ten-year timetable for the cattle BCG vaccine and DIVA test to become available for use. The Commission was clear this process must include extensive field trials of both the vaccine and DIVA test under UK field conditions.
“The indicative timetable set down by the Commission is precisely that: indicative! The Government must do all it can to speed up progress without compromising collection of the robust field data needed to satisfy the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, European Commission and OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health). Once a programme of field trials is agreed, we look forward to the Government publishing its own timetable for use of a vaccine on cattle. We accept that plans may alter but any change must be clearly explained,” added Anne McIntosh.
Small-scale studies to test the efficacy of the vaccine in cattle in Ethiopia and Mexico have shown the protective effect to be between 56-68%. A vaccine offering this level of protection won’t immediately solve the problems of bovine TB in the cattle industry.
”This vaccine will be no magic bullet,” warned Anne McIntosh. “Before deployment the Government must undertake and publish a robust cost-benefit analysis. Over the short term, use of the vaccine will impose an additional cost and may increase the administrative and testing burdens farmers already face. The circumstances in which it might be used, the precise objectives for applying it, and levels of protection that make the vaccine worth while all need careful consideration.”
An injectable vaccine for badgers
An injectable BCG vaccine for badgers has been available for use since March 2010. It does not confer complete protection and has no discernible effect on animals already infected with TB. Small-scale studies suggest that vaccination reduces the risk of a positive result to the most sensitive and specific test for bovine TB by 54%, but substantial data showing the effect of the badger vaccine in the field is lacking.
“Deployment of an injectable badger vaccine is one means by which we could create a healthier badger population, but there are many unknowns to overcome if it is to be viable, and it will be expensive. To be cost-effective deployment must focus on areas where it will have the biggest impact,” said Anne McIntosh
An oral vaccine for badgers
An oral baited vaccine for badgers that can be laid at setts is likely to be cheaper and more practical than an injectable version for vaccinating large numbers of badgers. Development of an oral vaccine (along with a suitable bait and a strategy for deployment) pose many challenges that will take several years to resolve.
“Once developed, an oral vaccine is unlikely to provide an immediate or complete solution. If herd immunity can be achieved, then it will still take many years as well as considerable effort and expense. While this is the most likely way to create a healthy badger population, it is vital the challenges involved are fully understood by all those interested in this subject,” said Anne McIntosh.
The UK currently relies on a skin test that could miss one in four infected cows. Liver fluke, Johne’s disease and even pregnancy may impact the result of a skin test. If other more sensitive tests exist, MPs argue these should also be employed.
“It is frustrating to hear government officials acknowledge that the current testing regime misses infectious cattle when the gamma interferon test, a blood test of greater sensitivity, catches the disease earlier. Despite the cost, the Government must explore whether we can use this test more widely to bear down on the disease, “ says Anne McIntosh.
A variety of ongoing research projects could make a real difference to the eradication of bovine TB in the United Kingdom. These include: PCR testing to determine infected badger setts, a new type of test to identify bovine TB in cattle after slaughter, and work on a vaccine that does not interfere with the skin test.
“Throughout this inquiry the Committee have been impressed by the scientific research under way to discover solutions to the problem of bovine TB. It is crucial that the Government continues to invest in this research,” adds Anne McIntosh.
Committee Membership is as follows: Miss Anne McIntosh (Chair), Thomas Docherty, Richard Drax, George Eustice, Barry Gardiner, Mrs Mary Glindon, Iain McKenzie, Sheryll Murray, Neil Parish, Ms Margaret Ritchie, Dan Rogerson
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A depressing read for those of us that have been campaigning on this subject for years and seen the goalposts moved so regularly. The timescale for vaccination - because of the EU bureaucracy - is now a staggering ten years before cattle vaccination can be introduced and even then this is only a possible guideline. Badgers are being vaccinated NOW so why can't farmers have the right to vaccinate their cattle NOW?
27 Apr 2013, 8:42 AM
Scientists at The University of Nottingham are studying whether harmful bacteria found in cattle could be harnessed to protect livestock from the devastating disease bovine tuberculosis (TB). The research, being led by Professor Paul Barrow in the University's School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, could offer an important step towards developing a vaccine against bovine TB, which affects tens of thousands of cattle every year. The study will investigate the disease in UK and Chinese cattle in collaboration with Professor Xiangmei Zhou at Beijing's China Agricultural University. The two-year project has been funded with a -200,000 grant from the Research Councils UK (RCUK) and Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) China-UK Cooperation Programme in Global Priorities. Professor Barrow said: "We have discovered very interesting and novel interactions between different bacterial types during mixed infections. One bacterial type can stimulate short term immunity against unrelated bacteria providing a degree of protection. We want to look to see if a similar relationship occurs between the bovine tubercle bascillus and other bacteria which are present in the tissues at the same time." In China, bovine TB is now a major economic problem, causing hardship for farmers and their families living in rural communities. In any one herd, up to 70 per cent of cattle can be affected. Bovine TB is also a zoonosis - an infectious disease that can cross the species barrier to spread from animal to human. In the UK, early detection means the disease is never allowed to reach the point where it can threaten human health. However, in China some spread of the bacterium which is the origin of the disease, Mycobacterium bovis, does result in some human tuberculosis. TB is a chronic disease that eats away at the lungs over a long period of time, eventually leading to breathing difficulties. Effective treatment can take up to two years, which is not a practical or financial option for impoverished people often living in remote locations. The Nottingham scientists will be investigating whether being infected by other related bacteria could offer a protective effect against bovine TB. In particular, they are looking at another common cattle bacterium called Mycobacterium paratuberculosis, which causes the gut wasting condition Johne's Disease and has been tentatively linked with Crohn's disease in humans. The researchers will be using advanced microarray technology to test samples from cattle from both the UK and China to detect the mixture of bacteria that may be present in a single animal. Colleagues in China will be conducting in vitro assays in cell culture to study whether the presence of one bacterium may affect the immune system in response to another.
As part of the 'Ask Defra' initiative via Twitter, Rethink bTB asked; 'Will EU field trials of BCG Cattle Vacc +DIVA test start this year?'.
Defra's response was; 'We are working hard to design field trials with EU at the moment. No start date as yet.'
One wonders why it has taken so very long to get to this stage?
3 Apr 2013, 6:18 PM
According to an article in Farmers Weekly www.fwi.co.uk/articles/03/04/2013/138422/heath-defends-government-on-bovine-tb-vaccinations.htm the government i, once again, procrastinating.
Despite the farm minister, David Heath, rejecting suggestions that the government is dragging its heels when it comes to introducing a cattle vaccination for bovine TB. the years of lack of proper action is now very apparent.
Giving evidence to he Environment, Food and Rural Affairs select committee last month, Mr Heath said that introducing the BCG vaccine was a very long process and there was a big difference between having a viable vaccine and getting to the point where it could be legally used in the UK. Let's not forget that research into vaccines (funded by the taxpayer) has been ongoing for many years with assurances that it will be ready by a certain date. The dates come and go with alarming regularity and we are now, apparently, still decades away from being able to use a vaccination for cattle - despite one being available NOW for badgers.
“Nothing would delight me more than to have an effective vaccine as part of an array of told that we can use for bovine TB and at the earliest opportunity, but the fact remains that we have this conundrum that we have, up until now, not been able to event test it in UK conditions,” said Heath. Not good enough - surely procedures should have been put in place decades ago to test the vaccine in the UK?
The chief scientific adviser, Professor Ian Boyd, said a TB eradication strategy would be published by June, “What we expect that to show is what all the methods are available for eradication, where they are going to come on line and what their contribution is going to be to the ultimate eradication of TB.
“That has to be expressed in very plain language and it has to be expressed very clearly.”
16 Mar 2013, 11:13 AM
Information sent via email from GL 16/03/13.
Cattle Vaccination is and always has been the obvious solution. It is over 100 years since cattle were first experimentally vaccinated for bovine TB. Why has it has taken so long to produce a vaccine? The Industry itself bears the blame for relying on a wasteful and gruesome, ‘test and slaughter policy’. They once claimed it would be the quickest way to clear the disease. Now they want to start killing the wildlife again. We cannot let this continue.
The average age at exit/death of a cow in the UK herd is just 6.6 years, making a vaccine even more viable. The following statement by CHAWG, (Cattle Health and Welfare Group) is quite useful.
Page 21, for example,
Quote, “240,000 cattle dying on farms of unknown causes” (BCMS) The whole annual report is full of useful information. They now admit that the breeding of cattle has concentrated on production rather than health for the last 30 yrs.
Also I think it may be possible to turn their claim (Defra) that no country has managed to control TB without first addressing the wildlife reservoir on its head. It is easier to say that, “Countries that have become obsessed with the issue of a wildlife reservoir have been the ones who have failed to eliminate bTB in cattle. Ireland for e.g. still killing 18,500 cattle in 2011 whereas Sweden and Scotland are free of TB without mass killing of wildlife.
Australia is an example they often cite and its time we hit this one on the head. Here I have noted the irrelevance of this particular idea .
Strictly speaking no actual wildlife reservoir ever existed in Australia. Feral water buffalo, (many still farmed for milk) were found with bTB in one area and these were eliminated.
Badger indigenous and wild Water buffalo feral , introduced and farmed
Australian cattle free ranging in many areas UK cattle fenced (usually inadequately)
Climate and environment. Very different
Water buffalo are cattle/bovines. Badgers are a totally different species and avoid
The will associate and free range with the cattle cattle as a rule.
They can attempt to breed with cattle Badgers do not breed with cattle!!!
Australia developed effective movement controls UK failed to control movement of cattle
14 Mar 2013, 6:42 PM
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee
Select Committee Announcement
14 March 2013
MPs to take evidence from Minister on bovine TB vaccination
The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee will hold its final scheduled oral evidence session on bovine TB vaccination on Tuesday 19 March at 3.00 pm. This session will explore the development of a vaccination response to the problem of bovine TB in cattle and wildlife—specifically progress with the availability of a cattle BCG vaccine, and the deployment of an injectable badger vaccine.
The Committee will also question the Minister about Schmallenberg.
The meeting will take place in committee room 15 at the Palace of Westminster.
The witnesses will be:
At 3.00 pm:
· David Heath MP, Minister for Agriculture, Defra
· Professor Ian Boyd, Chief Scientific Adviser, Defra
· Professor Glyn Hewinson, Chief Scientist, AHVLA
Further information on the inquiry is available on the Committee’s website. www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/environment-food-and-rural-affairs-committee/
9 Mar 2013, 8:27 PM
Cash support for the BCG cattle vaccine went down from £3.7 million in 2009/10 to £2.2 million last year. While it was increased by around £500,000 this year, it is due to fall again by 2015/16 to less than £2 million.
Labour's Shadow Farming Minister Huw Irranca-Davies, said: "Government cuts to funding for badger vaccinations and their dithering on cattle vaccinations means they are failing farmers and our countryside. It is as if they want to rule out all options other than this flawed cull which is bad for wildlife, bad for farmers and bad for taxpayers."
A Department for Environment spokesman said: "These figures only show funding already committed to long-term research projects over the next few years. They are likely to increase as further work is commissioned.
"Scoping of potentially significant additional research on cattle vaccination is currently in progress. Vaccination is one of our goals to help stop the spread of bovine TB, but as the EU Commission recently confirmed it could be ten years before we have a cattle vaccine we can use.
Info from: www.thisiscornwall.co.uk/Fall-funding-bovine-TB-vaccine-research-forecast/story-18332030-detail/story.html#axzz2N4gDa8EX:
On Wednesday 6 March the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee will hold the fourth evidence session of its inquiry into vaccination of badgers and cattle against bovine TB.
Details of the session are as follows:
Wednesday 6 March, 3.00 pm, Grimond Room, Portcullis House
Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA)
· Professor Glyn Hewinson, Chief Scientist
[This evidence was originally scheduled to take place on 12 February]
More information about the inquiry can be at www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/environment-food-and-rural-affairs-committee/inquiries/parli ament-2010/bovine-tb-vaccine/
27 Feb 2013, 12:33 PM
On the 26 February a Parliamentary session explored the extent to which current EU legislation prevents the UK using a cattle BCG vaccine and the implications if it breaches this legislation. It was also supposed to discuss the timetable and likelihood for amending EU legislation to permit the use of cattle vaccination.
Most questions were answered by an EU bureaucrat who thinks the test and cull works (there are many examples to prove it does not work, including the fairly recent one - see www.fwi.co.uk/articles/05/02/2013/137488/tb-skin-test-questioned-after-false-results.htm#.URD1fq2kidE) . He blames movement of animals in the UK and farmers not following the rules but the committee misses the latter point.
Keep watching the last bit (after BTB) as he completely undermines his case on the dangers of BCG at 1726.
23 Feb 2013, 9:09 AM
MPs to take further evidence on bovine TB
On Tuesday 26 and Wednesday 27 February the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee will hold the second and third evidence sessions of its inquiry into vaccination of badgers and cattle against bovine TB.
More information about the inquiry can be found on the Committee’s website: www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/environment-food-and-rural-affairs-committee/inquiries/parli ament-2010/bovine-tb-vaccine/
20 Feb 2013, 2:09 PM
Oh, so we are beginning to see the light - actually the powers that be do not really want any change because then, of course, we won't be getting the 30 or so millions of pounds paid to UK by the EU! I assume this would be lost if cattle vaccine was introduced - so, never mind the real consequences to farmers, cattle, wildlife etc - as long as the UK receives this money why would they want to purse the cattle vaccination route and forfeit the EU funding?
19 Feb 2013, 7:31 PM
Here we go again. How do they keep getting away with it - yet again we are told cattle vaccination is years away. We can't even do field trials! We are told decades have been spent trying to find a vaccine yet the BCG vaccine has been available for a very long time and this is the one now being proposed. Why wasn't the preparatory work for field trials not done years ago?
The following article at www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-21478830 summaries the informstion.
Cattle TB vaccine 'is years away', MP is told
A West County MP has been told a vaccine for cattle against bovine TB is at least 10 years away. Liberal Democrat MP David Heath said Defra officials are lobbying the EU to try to speed up the approval process.
At present the vaccination of cattle against bovine TB is forbidden under international and EU law.
Mr Heath, who represents the Somerton and Frome constituency said there had been a "very useful dialogue" with the European Union Health Commissioner Tonio Borg.
Mr Heath told the BBC's Inside Out West TV programme: "He's come back with some proposals as to how we could take this forward in an effective way, we're very keen to do that.
"The bad news is that there's a very long timescale. Commissioner Borg estimates that, even if everything goes swimmingly, it will probably take about 10 years before we actually are able to use a vaccine on cattle in this country."
Scientists at the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) in Surrey have been working to find a vaccine for the past 15 years. In 2012 they applied to the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) for the licensing of the Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine, the same one used to protect humans, for use in cattle.
Prof Glyn Hewinson, chief scientist at the AHVLA said although BCG is not 100% effective "it does work".
"What we know is it will protect a certain number of animals against acquiring infection," he said.
"It will reduce the infection in a certain percentage of animals, and by doing so we expect it to reduce the transmission of TB from one animal to another."
But even if the VMD grants a licence for BCG to be used in cattle, field trials still need to be held to prove that it works under real farm conditions as well as experimental ones.
And these field trials are blocked from going ahead because of the ban on vaccinating cattle.
The reason for the ban is the skin test currently used to identify cattle with TB cannot tell the difference between infected animals and those vaccinated with BCG. Both infected and vaccinated animals appear to test positive for TB so scientists are now looking at the the DIVA test (Differentiate Infected from Vaccinated Animals) as a way of telling the difference. Prof Hewinson says his team has developed one but this also needs field trials. He said: "At the moment we're in this Catch-22 where it's illegal to vaccinate cattle and yet in order to generate robust data to reassure Europe that our DIVA tests are sensitive enough we need to do field trials."
Prof Hewinson said his scientists will now work on designing the necessary field trials so that a detailed approach can be presented to European officials in the hope of moving forward.
16 Feb 2013, 6:48 PM
Will Wales lead the way re cattle vaccination?
www.thisissouthwales.co.uk/Welsh-Government-considers-options-tackling/story-18167183-detail/story. html#axzz2L5ZOu9C0 No mention of vaccination not being possible until 2023 in this article. Story reproduced below.
WALES'S chief veterinary officer has visited Ethiopia to look at vaccinating cattle against TB.
The Welsh Government believes cattle vaccination could contribute to TB eradication, and Dr Christianne Glossop's visit comes as the Government considers all options available for tackling the issue.
Ethiopia has one of the largest cattle populations in the world, and also faces a significant challenge with bovine TB.
Dr Glossop said: "We want to develop a sustainable relationship with Ethiopia. They have practical experience of vaccinating cattle against TB and we have been focussing on TB testing, biosecurity and movement restrictions. There are opportunities for us to both help and learn from each other.
"Considering options for vaccination as part of our eradication plan is a priority for the Welsh Government. We know it is going to take time to get there and that there are hurdles to be overcome but we are keen to do all we can to accelerate the process."
The Welsh Government is currently developing a vaccination strategy
16 Feb 2013, 9:35 AM
Re gllphillips posting below. This website, Rethink bTB and others have campaigned tirelessly for cattle vaccination which Defra, in several formal documents stated would be licensed last year but it would take until 2015 before it could be implemented because of the EU procedures. For, what appears to be no good reason at all, we are now told cattle vaccination will not be available until 2023. This is disgusting. For decades farmers have been assured cattle vaccination would be available but each time a goal is set it is deferred.
Perhaps what is needed is for farmers to get together and demand vaccination but at the moment the NFU, sadly, is not behind cattle vaccination and, instead is concentrating virtually all its efforts on badger culling. It is well recognised that culling will have, at best, only limited effects and could even make the problem worse. Some recent reports now even state that the badger is a spillover host, like the many other mammals that can contract bTB, so if this is correct, this makes culling badgers even more meaningless. With such public opposition against culling it is the poor farmers who bear the brunt of such opposition.
16 Feb 2013, 8:11 AM
I recently wrote a letter to our local MP (Simon Hart) to ask him what can be done to ease the pressures on ordinary farmers resulting from the intense bTB problem that exists in West Wales.
He wrote to Owen Patterson, the Minister, who passed it onto David Heath MP, who wrote back with the predictable response, which is that cattle vaccination is forbidden in EU member states.
It seems to me that whether you write to, there seems little attention paid to this flawed legislation and how it can be changed.
I can understand why live exports could be banned, but in my view for member states of the EU to ban meat and dairy products because we decided to vaccinate is just unreasonable. It's as if this legislation is written in stone and cannot be changed. It's the immovable object which is messing up so many lives.
Can anyone tell me how we can change this law, which is unfit for purpose.
11 Feb 2013, 6:51 PM
Smallholder reported the following (http://www.smallholder.co.uk/news/10219743.No_bovine_TB_vaccine_for_ten_years/ 11/02/13):
The European Commission has told Defra that a cattle vaccine for bovine TB (bTB) is unlikely to be commercially available until 2023.
In a recent letter to Defra Secretary Owen Paterson, EU health Commissioner Tonio Borg said vaccination against bTB is ‘explicitly forbidden’ in EU legislation on disease control and in ‘intra-Union trade legislation’.
He said the main reason for the ban was, due to the ‘suboptimal protection’ from cattle vaccines, the risk that vaccinated animals may become infected but could not be distinguished from uninfected vaccinated animals because vaccination ‘interferes’ with the TB skin test. “This would jeopardise current bTB control and eradication policy,” he said.
30 Jan 2013, 10:15 AM
The 'Bovine TB Eradication Programme IAA Badger Vaccination Project Year 1 Report' by the Welsh Assembly has just been published and can be read in full at:
Of course many will ask the question - 'If badgers can be vaccinated, why can't we vaccinated our cattle?'
The conclusions of the report are below:
The Office of the Chief Veterinary Officer considers that the first year of this project was successful in meeting the objective to trap and vaccinate as many badgers as possible within the IAA. The confirmed number of badgers caught and vaccinated is 1424, which was achieved without incident or injury during one of the wettest summers on record. Solid project management and the dedication of the entire team contributed to this outcome.
This year's success depended on the co-operation of landowners and occupiers granting access to land to set traps and vaccinate captured badgers.
Round 9 which was undertaken in November, covered a smaller area than previous rounds and resulted in proportionally fewer badgers being trapped. The lower trapping rate is likely to be due to the extremely poor weather conditions experienced during November and the fact that badgers become less active during winter months.
The variance in capture rates across rounds may be due to several contributing factors, including varying badger density, time of year and size of areas trapped.
During 2012, the project delivered badger vaccination in areas that had been surveyed in 2010. It is intended to expand the project where possible into previously un-surveyed areas to further increase coverage in future years. Increasing the duration of a cycle of work and increasing the number of field operatives will also be considered to ensure vaccination can be delivered over a wider area.
It is difficult to make inferences based on a single year’s data, but as the project progresses there should be increased scope to interrogate the dataset and reach meaningful conclusions.
27 Jan 2013, 12:59 PM
Vaccination reduces the risk of unvaccinated badger cubs testing tuberculosis positive (says report published December 12, 2012).
New evidence from a four-year field study has shown that BCG vaccination reduces the risk of tuberculosis infection in unvaccinated badger cubs in vaccinated groups, as well as in badgers that received the vaccine.
The research, published today in the journal PLOS ONE provides the strongest evidence to date that unvaccinated badger cubs can be indirectly protected from TB infection when some of the badgers in their social group are vaccinated. By studying rates of new cases of TB in cubs in vaccinated social groups, researchers have shown that the risk of non-vaccinated cubs testing positive was reduced by almost 80 per cent when more than a third of badgers in their group had been vaccinated. The results come from a controlled clinical field trial of badger vaccination, conducted by the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) and the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), in an area in Gloucestershire where TB is highly prevalent in the badger population.
Dr Steve Carter of Fera and lead author of the latest research said: "One concern about the effectiveness of badger vaccination is that new-born cubs might acquire TB before they first emerge above ground. As the vaccine is not expected to benefit infected individuals it has been suggested that by the time cubs emerge and are available for vaccination they might have already been exposed to TB. Therefore, vaccination for them may be too late. This study indicates that vaccination of badgers above ground can indirectly protect unvaccinated cubs before they emerge from the sett".
RethinkBtb is a group (www.rethinkbtb.org) promoting a radical new approach to bovine tb management, including cattle vaccination.
Last September they co hosted a meeting to promote cattle vaccination: attendees included farmers,veterinarians wildlife organisations and political representatives.
In January they submitted evidence to the EFRA Parliamentary Committee looking at badger and cattle Vaccination. Evidence submitted cannot be made public until after the EFRA Committee has completed its investigation, however RethinkBtb's submission focused on cattle vaccination and DEFRA's lack of strategic planning in introducing this essential tool to help control Btb. The group is also active on Facebook and Twitter communicating and debating their ideas with farmers,vets, politicians, environmentalist, journalists, animal welfare groups and many individuals interested in bovine tb.
There is a section on the 'Future possible use of vaccine in cattle'. Whilst it indicates some progress it seems it is STILL years away - one wonders why such proposal for trials wasn't undertaken years ago - in fact it is highly likely it is only being seriously considered now because of the active campaigning of those who are so against wildlife culling.
The following extractis typical of delaying tactics. Some odd comments when one considers that the BCG vaccine is one of the longest used and safest vaccine - no such attention given to other vaccines that are brought in very quickly with less knowledge and experience of use - and also consider the continued and often routine use of antibiotics for animals, despite the known consequences of resistance for future and impacts on human health!
"Scientific knowledge on bTB vaccination was reviewed during a recent technical workshop held in Cardiff. The outcome of the workshop clearly indicates that the hypothetical use of the only candidate vaccine (live BCG vaccine) presents still many knowledge gaps, in particular concerning the performance of the vaccine (level and duration of protection, protection from disease or infection), safety (possible shedding of the attenuated live pathogen by vaccinated animals), conditions for use (age of animals, type of herd) and suitability of candidate DIVA test(s)."