See www.bovinetb.co.uk/forum_topic.php?thread_id=46&page=1 and www.bovinetb.co.uk/article.php?article_id=56 for information on the infamous Boxster case. This case has set a legal precedent and it means that any cattle owner who believes that the tests for bTB have not been undertaken properly can challenge through the courts.
The Judge did not accept Defra's expert's argument and came to the conclusion that a test not taken according to the rules is invalid. This sets a legal precedent. Any test not taken according to the rules can now be challenged....
Any farmer who has a problem with bTB tests that were not done according to protocol can scuttle off to court and use Boxster's precendent...Of course a farmer can have a sound legal challenge with a such a test. DEFRA were so desperate not to set a precedent..... instead they have created a dirty great big one.
Interesting research by Dr Gareth Enticott of Cardiff University discusses the proposal to introduce competitive tendering for TB testing contracts in parts of England.
He says, “Planned changes to the way vets are allowed to conduct TB tests could have a dramatic impact on rural veterinary practices and fail to address quality control issues surrounding tests for bovine tuberculosis..."
How many farmers have any confidence in the existing, flawed testing regime?
9 Jan 2017, 4:22 PM
There have been several reported cases of anergy w- where the skin test has missed individuals. See Farmers Weekly ( www.fwi.co.uk/articles/05/02/2013/137488/tb-skin-test-questioned-after-false-results.htm#.URD1fq2kidE ): “The accuracy of the bovine TB skin test has been questioned after a cow that tested negative for five years was found to be riddled with the disease. The cow was part of the Gelli Aur College Farm in Carmarthenshire, which has been under TB restrictions since 2007 and lost 300 cattle to the disease…. Farm manager John Owen said the level of infection in the fifth-lactation animal only came to light when it was slaughtered. "We culled her at the end of her productive life and at slaughter she was found to be riddled with TB," said Mr Owen. "The level of infection in that cow suggests she had been infected for years." He is concerned that the homebred cow may have been at the root of successive test failures. "The cow kept passing the test, there was nothing to suggest that she was infected," he said. "It is a concern that she may have been spreading the disease to other animals within the herd."
It is unwise to assume this is an isolated instance. What has happened to the cattle vaccination trials? l
7 Sep 2016, 10:23 AM
Fasciola hepatica is associated with the failure to detect bovine tuberculosis in dairy cattle
ABSTRACT Bovine tuberculosis (BTB) is a significant and intractable disease of cattle caused by Mycobacterium bovis. In the United Kingdom, despite an aggressive eradication programme, the prevalence of BTB is increasing with an unexplained, exponential rise in cases year on year. Here we show in a study involving 3,026 dairy herds in England and Wales that there is a significant negative association between exposure to the common, ubiquitous helminth parasite, Fasciola hepatica and diagnosis of BTB. The magnitude of the single intradermal comparative cervical tuberculin test used to diagnose BTB is reduced in cattle experimentally co-infected with M. bovis and F. hepatica. We estimate an under-ascertainment rate of about one-third (95% confidence interval 27–38%) among our study farms, in the hypothetical situation of no exposure to F. hepatica. This finding may in part explain the continuing spread of BTB and the failure of the current eradication programme in the United Kingdom.
Performance of the SD Bioline TB Ag MPT64 Rapid test for quick confirmation of Mycobacterium bovis isolates from animals
Abstract Mycobacterium (M.) bovis, a bacterium in the M. tuberculosis complex, is a causative agent of bovine tuberculosis, a contagious disease of animals. Mycobacterial culture is the gold standard for diagnosing bovine tuberculosis, but this technique is laborious and time-consuming. In the present study, performance of the SD Bioline TB Ag MPT4 Rapid test, an immunochromatographic assay, was evaluated using reference bacterial strains and M. bovis field isolates collected from animals. The SD MPT64 Rapid test produced positive results for 95.5% (63/66) of the M. bovis isolates from cattle and 97.9% (46/47) of the isolates from deer. Additionally, the test had a sensitivity of 96.5% (95% CI, 91.2-99.0), specificity of 100% (95% CI, 96.7-100.0), positive predictive value of 100% (95% CI, 96.7-100.0), and negative predictive value of 92.9% (95% CI, 82.7-98.0) for M. bovis isolates. In conclusion, the SD MPT64 Rapid test is simple to use and may be useful for quickly confirming the presence of M. bovis in animals.
Modelling produced by researchers at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) has found that the only effective potential Bovine Tuberculosis (TB) control strategies are badger culling, cattle testing, controlling cattle movement, and ceasing the practice of housing farm cattle together during winter. The modelling found that in a region containing about 1.5m cows of which 3000 to 15,000 might have TB, badger culling could account for a reduction of 12 in the number of infected cattle. While reducing the testing interval by one month could reduce the number of those infected by 193.
The model showed that regular and frequent testing of cattle could eventually lead to the eradication of the disease, whether or not badgers were culled, and despite the current test being at most 80% accurate. Badger culling alone, however did not lead to TB eradication in the study and is therefore unlikely to be a successful control strategy.
The model also suggested that housing cattle in large sheds over winter could potentially double the number of infected animals in a herd, as under such conditions there is a much greater chance of TB being passed between cows.
This is the first large-scale model of TB in cattle and badgers that included the possibility of the infection being passed in both directions between the two species. The model successfully mimicked the changing patterns of TB in the UK, including the changes seen after TB controls were reduced during the foot-and-mouth epidemic of 2002.
Researchers Dr Aristides Moustakas and Professor Matthew Evans, of QMUL’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, used state-of-the-art computer modelling to understand how the interaction of different factors impacted on infection rates. Such factors included the movement and life-cycles of badgers and cattle; how cattle are moved and housed; how frequently cattle are tested, different types of badger culling; and the infection rates between animals.
The research is published online in Stochastic Environmental Research and Risk Assessment.
Professor Matthew Evans, Professor of Ecology at QMUL, said:
“Of the available Bovine Tuberculosis control strategies we believe that how frequently cattle are tested and whether or not farms utilise winter housing have the most significant effect on the number of infected cattle.”
“TB is a complex disease and modelling it is difficult but we’ve successfully used our model to replicate real world situations and are confident that it can be used to predict the effects of various changes in the way we tackle the disease.”
“Our modelling provides compelling evidence, for those charged with controlling Bovine TB, that investment in increasing the frequency of cattle testing is a far more effective strategy than badger culling.”
7 Nov 2014, 12:40 PM
The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) has confirmed significant changes to the way TB testing will be delivered in England and Wales from next spring. From April 2015, APHA will manage TB testing through Delivery Partners who have successfully tendered for the work.
These Delivery Partners will be responsible for testing in one or more geographical regions of England and Wales. A tendering exercise is under way and announcement of the successful Delivery Partners is anticipated early in 2015.
It will remain the keeper’s responsibility to arrange testing but to do so they will need to liaise with the Delivery Partner for their geographical region.
Delivery Partners will then be responsible for allocating the actual test work - which will continue to be undertaken exclusively by fully qualified vets - and for assuring the quality of the work performed.
Full article at: www.farmersguardian.com/home/hot-topics/bovine-tb/major-changes-to-tb-testing-delivery-announced/68558.article
17 Oct 2014, 8:25 PM
Bovine TB: Cattle, Badgers and Politicians – a profoundly revealing story - just how reliable is the test?
A Metrological Contribution to the Diagnosis of Bovine Tuberculosis
Abstract The present paper aims to evaluate the actual relevance of the application of metrological criteria for the diagnosis of bovine tuberculosis using Comparative Cervical Tuberculin (CCT) inoculation tests. The present work involves the following steps: identification of the instruments used to measure skin thickness in tuberculin inoculation tests; calibration of the measurement instruments (callipers) using gauge blocks; identification of the variables that can affect the calibration results and the measurement results from inoculation tests; development of a methodology to evaluate the uncertainties associated with both the calliper calibration and with the measurements carried out during diagnosis; mathematical modelling of calliper calibration process and measurement process with the calliper; CCT tests performed in a total of 40 cattle comprising Nellore breed and mixed- breed dairy animals. To determine the effects of uncertainty on the test diagnosis, callipers with resolutions of 0.1 mm and 0.01 mm were compared. The results obtained showed that measurement uncertainty influences the final diagnosis. Therefore, the application of metrological criteria can increase scientific rigor and quality of the results obtained with CCT tests, and consequently, the reliability of the final diagnosis.
The paper can be read in full at: www.sciencedomain.org/download.php?f=Valdys4342014BJAST12830.pdf&aid=6185
20 Sep 2014, 10:17 AM
Pretty damning of the disease management system and yet again ''The variability in testing skills between vets was raised.' Standards seem unenforceable: http://www.nfuonline.com/assets/24886
19 Sep 2014, 1:18 PM
Study explores link between liver fluke and TB testsLiver fluke affects more than 70 per cent of dairy farms in the UK.Research team seeking dairy and beef farms to take part in study
Liverpool researchers are conducting a two-year study to find out the extent to which liver fluke infection in cattle affects the reliability of skin test results.
Announcing the study in the Veterinary Record letters (Vol 175 No 10), researchers are seeking the help of veterinary surgeons who can recommend suitable herds to take part.
Research has identified a link between liver fluke and reduced reactions to TB skin tests. More than 70 per cent of dairy farms in the UK are thought to be affected by fluke.
Alison Howell and Diana Williams of the University of Liverpool are aiming to find out more about the relationship between fluke and TB and how fluke affects TB test results.
The team are looking for dairy and beef herds in the UK with large numbers of reactors or a persistent TB problem to take part in the study.
Whole herds will be blood sampled and fluke tested at the time of the TB test. Researchers will also analyse the results of the herd TB test and farmers will be asked to complete a short questionnaire about TB and fluke risk factors.
Farmers will receive payment for their time as well as the results of the fluke test.
Veterinary surgeons in practice who can recommend a suitable herd are asked to contact Alison Howell: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
A £100,000 research project, financed entirely by alpaca and llama owners in the UK, has successfully developed a test, approved by Government, which can prove at 97% accuracy if an animal carries the disease or not.
The Enferplex TB test has been developed by the Evershot, Dorset-based SureFarm veterinary group after llama and alpaca owners approached them for help in investigating potential outbreaks of the disease in their herds.
Enfer Scientific has developed a multi-antigen assay for TB and has optimised the assay for use in Cattle, Goats, Pigs and Wild Boar, Deer, Badger, Camelids (Llamas and Alpacas).
4 Jul 2014, 7:51 PM
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 says latest report.
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.”
Culling cattle, not badgers, 'only way to stop bovine TB'. The new study suggests badger culling has 'relatively little impact' as the animals are not to blame for most cases of tuberculosis in cattle.
Badgers are not to blame for most cases of tuberculosis in cattle, a university study has found.
Culling the animals 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.
They said 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.
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.
Printed sensor for the rapid test of bovine tuberculosis.
The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) are working with CompanDX Ltd, Public Health England and Sapient Sensors Limited to develop a portable testing device which would be capable of detecting bovine tuberculosis in cattle in just a matter of minutes. Currently it can take up to a week to identify bovine TB, following two separate visits by a veterinary physician and further analysis in a laboratory. The new £1.1 million project, co-funded by the UK's innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board, will aim to create a small hand held device that veterinarians can use to give an almost instant diagnosis from a simple blood test at farm sites.
The three year project will use CPI's scale up expertise to prototype a bespoke, printed sensor which will identify 'biological markers' - or molecules indicative of a specific disease in the blood. The sensor is underpinned by Sapient Sensor's diagnostic sensor technology, and will indicate the presence of bovine TB and could help spot the disease from a blood test rather than the time consuming skin test currently in use.
Currently sensors for these applications are produced using silicon technology, CPI will advance the device technology by printing a prototype onto plastic surfaces. The transition to plastic electronics will mean that as well as providing a rapid, accurate diagnosis, the new device will be far more cost effective than the current procedure, as it is single use and disposable with no costly repeat testing. This means, if cattle are infected, crucial disease control decisions could be made early, before the disease spreads or worsens. The device could also be used to provide important reassurance to farmers about the health of their cattle, before they sell for milk or beef.
Can anyone advise or give some information. After several clear test we had some reactors on a recent skin test. Gamma interferon tests were then carried out and a few more picked up (out of a herd of 50plus). Unbeknown to us, at the time of gamma interferon testing AHVLA also carried out what has appeared on the results as an "Antibody test". A decision to slaughter the whole herd has been taken on the basis of a 100% of the herd reacting positively to the antibody test. Banging my head against a brick wall trying to get anyone to explain the reasoning.
For note: we had a positive reactor on a skin test 2 years ago. Everything else clear.
29 Apr 2014, 9:42 AM
There have been several media reports about North Dotrset farmer, Paul Gould, whose closed herd was found to have several animals failing the bTB test this year. Gould said (from www.blackmorevale.co.uk/View-North-Dorset-Bob-Walter-MP/story-21024023-detail/story.html) - 'As I write this article, I have the post-mortem results of those animals already sent to slaughter in front of me: 21 showing clear lesions and seven so riddled with disease that they have been classed as condemned'.
Yet his test in June 2013 was clear?
14 Apr 2014, 10:24 AM
MP BILL Wiggin has hit out at the European Union for handicapping the UK in its battle against TB in cattle. He is North Herefordshire's MP and runs a small herd of Hereford cattle at his farm near Ledbury.
He said: “My preference would be to use a cattle vaccine, but the European Union is preventing us from doing that," said Mr Wiggin, who is North Herefordshire's MP and runs a small herd of Hereford cattle at his farm near Ledbury.
He was speaking after a statement on the Government’s strategy for TB and its assessment of the recent badger culls. Currently cattle are skin tested for TB, but Mr Wiggin claimed the skin test is "clearly failing".
He added: "The Government is consulting on a risk-based trading strategy which is completely flawed because it is based on the skin test, and the electronic device that Nottingham Trent university is working on is supposed to be three years away.
"What can the Secretary of State do to save my constituents from the total loss of condemned carcases and having their time wasted on futile consultations, all because we do not have a proper skin test?”
Info from: www.droitwichadvertiser.co.uk/news/11143499.Bill_Wiggin_blames_EU_in_Bovine_TB_battle/
3 Apr 2014, 1:10 PM
With a goal of reducing the amount of testing cattle producers in the Riding Mountain area will have to carry out, the province has launched a new five-year bovine tuberculosis tracking project.
The five-year $150 thousand initiative will support on-farm risk assessments and hopefully a move away from costly and time-consuming live animal testin. Melinda German, general manager of Manitoba Beef Producers, said: "This is a very welcome announcement to continue to help us in TB surveillance, moving toward eradication of the disease and away from producers having to test on a regular basis," she explains. The funding will be used to improve the current tracking system to allow for TB tests at slaughter to be traced back to individual farms.
"We're looking at new ways of being able to do surveillance for the disease and move away from live animal testing. This will help look at different methods and verify those methods for us," says German.
The Riding Mountain TB Eradication Area has been categorized as "bovine TB-free" since 2006. As part of maintaining that status, producers in the area have had to conduct regular TB testing on their animals for more than 12 years.
German credits bovine TB coordinator Dr. Allan Preston with leading the efforts in eradicating the disease. The coordinator position was created by federal and provincial governments in 2012 to bring together the many stakeholders involved in the fight against bovine TB.
"Dr. Preston has been key in terms of the progress we've made in the last year," she says. "The work that he's done has really helped move this forward."
Ultimately, the results from this new project could provide a hint as to when bovine TB might finally be eliminated in Manitoba.
"I wish I could say we had a specific time by when we will be done, but it will depend on the results from the work that we're going to do now," says German. "We have made significant progress over the years and we're getting closer, but that's hard to say after we've been dealing with this disease for many years. It's taken a toll on many producers in that area." Info from: www.portageonline.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=36800&Itemid=526
29 Mar 2014, 1:54 PM
Farmers are people are getting killed during routine TB tests: There have been 3 in the UK and Ireland since 2010 (close to 1 per year).
Home secretary Theresa May paid a visit to farmers to discuss government plans to fight bovine TB. The meeting took place at Paul Rinder’s Stroud Farm in Holyport, Maidenhead.
Berkshire farmer Colin Rayner, who attended the event, said the minister was shown a mock TB test of Mr Rinder’s cattle and a vet explained all the different issues surrounding the problems of the reliability of TB testing.
“Ms May is one of only a handful of Cabinet ministers to witness a TB test,” said Mr Rayner, after her visit.
“We were telling her how unreliable the tests were and about how you can have reactors even when you don’t have TB.
“If you test cattle, you are likely to have three reactors out of every 1,000 cattle tested, even if they have not got TB.”
Mr Rayner, who has a fold of 32 Highland cattle at Berkyn Manor Farm, in nearby Horton, which must undergo a mandatory six-month TB testing regime. The herd remains free of TB.
“We also explained the cost to the industry, the number of TB tests carried out in Berkshire last year and the stress it causes to cattle going through the crush,” he added
“We also explained that a number of farmers and vets have been killed over the last few years carrying out the tests and how a lot of animals had died unnecessarily.”
4 Dec 2013, 6:51 PM
New research could lead to "revolution" in bovine TB control
8:19am Wednesday 4th December 2013 in News A collaborative project between academics in the UK and India aims to develop a revolutionary new control strategy for bovine tuberculosis (TB), with global benefits for human and animal health.
Bovine TB is a major problem in both the developed and developing world. As well as posing a risk to human health, the infection is responsible for huge economic losses in livestock farming, costing the GB taxpayer alone around £100m a year.
In the UK, there is a compulsory bovine TB screening and slaughter programme for cattle, but despite the fact that the BCG vaccination has proven effective in protecting cattle against the disease, it is against the law to vaccinate herds because the BCG interferes with the skin test currently used to detect the infection (giving a positive result whether an animal has been vaccinated against, or is infected with, TB.)
In India, the problem of zoonotic human TB is compounded by the fact that 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 socio-economic and cultural reasons.
Johnjoe McFadden, Professor of Molecular Genetics at the University of Surrey, is leading this three-year project which 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. The research will focus on identifying which genes to knock out from the BCG - to ensure that any knock-out genes do not impact the effectiveness of the BCG - and designing the diagnostic.
Professor McFadden comments: "While other labs are looking for BCG plus strains, we are 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.
Info from: www.smallholder.co.uk/news/10853245.New_research_could_lead_to__revolution__in_bovine_TB_control/
29 Nov 2013, 8:06 PM
The problem TB herd- characterisation, prediction and resolution. - SE3230 government research costing £459,875 and completed back in 2011. Some interesting comments about how unreliable skin test is on pages 3 and 13.
According to the Farmers Guardian report (www.farmersguardian.com/home/hot-topics/bovine-tb/durham-tb-outbreak-cattle-had-clear-pre-movement-test/60145.article) the recent Co Durham TB outbreak cattle 'had clear pre-movement test'.
'CATTLE that caused the first bovine TB (bTB) outbreak in County Durham for 22 months had been pre-movement tested and shown to be clear, according to the local NFU livestock chairman.'
The breakdown on a large beef unit that finishes thousands of animals each year has caused huge concern in the county, which remains desperate to remain free of the disease, and led to criticism of the farmer involved.
All cattle on holdings within three kilometres of the outbreak will now need to be tested for bTB, under Defra’s current strategy for dealing with outbreaks in clean areas of the country. Around 70 farmers attended a meeting on Monday, at which an AHVLA official outlined what farmers would now be required to do.
NFU North East livestock chairman Hans Porksen, who chaired the meeting, said the root of the problem appeared to be a failure in the pre-movement testing regime, rather than any wrongdoing by the farmer.
The disease was discovered when a handful of animals were found with suspect lesions at the abattoir. The animals came from a one-year testing area and, as required, had been pre-movement tested but the tests were clear.
The herd has been placed under movement restrictions, and a number of other animals have been removed for slaughter after reacting to a skin test.
21 Oct 2013, 9:30 AM
Farmers have raised concerns about new measures to try to slow the spread of bovine tuberculosis in England, due to be introduced next month (www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24600961).
TB testing and cattle movement controls are being stepped up across the country as part of the plans to try and 'eradicate bTB from England and Wales. But some farmers believe the testing process is not rigorous enough. Auctioneers too express concern that there is weak legislation a - insufficient bTB history on cattle being sold that could have come from any area, including bTB hot spots.
Rethink bTB has tweeted 'Farmers raise concern over testing procedure but Defra don't even report overdue tests any more Wonder why?'
Inside Out (BBC 1 today) investigates whether the government is failing farmers in the battle against bovine TB (www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-24520850).
Some farmers, including Phil Latham from Cheshire, welcome the new measures, but Phil describes the testing system as "shambolic". He said it was 174 days from the first bTB incident on his farm before his neighbour's animals were tested.
The government's Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) claims the system is strictly managed and Defra says it will be reviewing progress.
17 Jun 2013, 1:00 PM
Email today from JC saying: 'I have heard that some unscrupulous individuals will use cortisone injections to reduce swellings produced by the bovine strain of Tb during skin testing. Their cattle then 'pass', and are sold on asap. If that is well known amongst farmers, it must also be known to Dept. of Agr. staff.'
It is inevitable, with any systems, there will be abuse. It would be difficult to determine if this is widespread but from our experience probably not, although if it is allowing any bTB reactors to be sold on then there could be significant repercussions, even if the practice is not widespread.
14 Jun 2013, 6:25 PM
In the latest EFRA paper there is criticism of the existing skin test. Rethink bTB has reminded us that in 2012 there were some 8 million tests on cattle in GB. 37,754 cattle were slaughtered of which 8000 (using Defra's own 99.9% specificity rate) were false positives!