BVA sets out roadmap to control and eradicate bovine tuberculosis

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Written by Iain Hoey

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has set out a comprehensive approach to tackling bovine tuberculosis (bTB) across the UK, drawing on behavioural science and proposing 35 wide-ranging recommendations.

BVA’s new bTB policy position has brought together veterinary expertise in cattle and wildlife and applies new and emerging evidence to set out a holistic roadmap to guide the efforts of vets, farmers, and government in bTB control and eradication.

At the heart of the new policy is the application of behavioural science, recognising that the actions of vets and farmers are key to successful disease control programmes.

The policy’s key recommendations include:

  • Setting up a framework for earned recognition to reward good biosecurity
  • Enhancing data sharing to support knowledge-based livestock trading and good decision-making on farm
  • Securing long-term funding for dedicated bTB advisory services
  • Simplifying and prioritising research priorities
  • Introducing systems to allow greater data sharing between government vets and private vets
  • Ensuring continued cooperation and collaboration on bTB between the four UK governments after Brexit

BVA’s new policy also identifies five key research priorities for the next five years, which include a better understanding of the effects of badger vaccination on the incidence of bTB in cattle; evidence to establish the role of cattle faeces in disease transmission; and better understanding of the causes of repeat breakdowns.

BVA junior vice president James Russell said: “Bovine tuberculosis remains one of the UK’s most challenging animal health and welfare issues. However, for too long, the debate has been unhelpfully characterised in terms of cattle versus badgers, and this misses the complex issues behind the disease, including understanding human behaviour and its impact on decisions.

“For the first time, we’re calling for behavioural science to be front and centre in the approach to bTB research and control. This means rewarding good biosecurity practices, providing vets and farmers with the tools and data they need to make evidence-based decisions, and recognising the human impact of this devastating disease.

“BVA continues to support a holistic approach to bTB control that utilises all the available tools in the toolbox, underpinned by the latest scientific evidence. In developing our new position, our expert working group reviewed current evidence and engaged widely with a range of stakeholders to set out a roadmap that we hope will guide vets, farmers, and the Government in ongoing efforts to tackle this disease.”

The top research priority – the development and validation of a cattle vaccine and DIVA (Differentiating Infected from Vaccinated Animals) test – took a step forward when Defra, the Welsh Government and the Scottish Government announced that cattle vaccination trials would soon get underway in England and Wales.

Mr Russell added: “The deployment of a viable cattle vaccine used in combination with a validated DIVA test has the potential to be an absolute game changer in our efforts to control and eradicate bovine tuberculosis and is something that our own expert bTB working group has identified as a key priority.”

A supplementary paper also assesses the short, medium and longer-term impacts of Covid-19 on bTB control and recommends steps to ensure that veterinary surveillance and controls continue across all species, with appropriate social distancing measures, to avoid undetected spread of disease.

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JP1

Member
Livestock Farmer
Sounds like already decided the cattle keepers need to do more despite the self evident wildlife vector. Dress that up however you like.

Bet they haven't highlighted two of the obvious ones:

Dismantling the local APHA (or whatever acronym it is this week) veterinary local offices

Putting the TB private testing in the hands of a tenderer that effectively means my own vet practice cannot justify ongoing registering of their own veterinary surgeons for private TB tests. Said new contractor in our entire region has a standard test fee of £150 + VAT 1-10 animals . So much for "risk based trading" I can just say I'm TB4 and not pre-movement test a bull I am selling on etc
 

holwellcourtfarm

Member
NFFN Member
We cattle farmers do have to get much better at biosecurity.

However....

If anyone else tells me that I should fence badgers out of my farmyard at my cost (we have 16 other residential properties within our farm boundary who use our driveway, all commuter types) or raise my water and mineral troughs so badgers can't reach them (then neither can the young calves or other wildlife) then I will get proper angry.

Our APHA vet refused to test a young dead badger here found during our "breakdown" last year as DEFRA won't test badgers in a TB4 area!
 

beardface

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
East Yorkshire
The policy’s key recommendations include:

  • Setting up a framework for earned recognition to reward good biosecurity
  • Enhancing data sharing to support knowledge-based livestock trading and good decision-making on farm
  • Securing long-term funding for dedicated bTB advisory services
  • Simplifying and prioritising research priorities
  • Introducing systems to allow greater data sharing between government vets and private vets
  • Ensuring continued cooperation and collaboration on bTB between the four UK governments after Brexit

So nothing that will actually reduce bTB then!
 
So nothing that will actually reduce bTB then!

Oh yes. Something does reduce zoonotic Tuberculosis in cattle. But it doesn’t involve any of the BVA steps at all.

The worst thing is, that BVA members know this. But prefer to dig around the elephant in the room which decorates Wildlife Trust collecting tins, and lines many pockets. Ker ching.
 

beardface

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
East Yorkshire
Oh yes. Something does reduce zoonotic Tuberculosis in cattle. But it doesn’t involve any of the BVA steps at all.

The worst thing is, that BVA members know this. But prefer to dig around the elephant in the room which decorates Wildlife Trust collecting tins, and lines many pockets. Ker ching.

Yep only two things that will significantly reduce bTB

1. Control of bTB in wildlife vectors.

2. Compulsory annual testing nationally.

Oh wait isn't that what we used to do......
 

Treg

Member
Location
Cornwall
Has it taken 40 yrs to come up with that?
The wording makes me wonder that it's aimed at ELMS, as in farmers being rewarded for biosecurity, which personally I think is a good thing.
There are wildlife vectors but there's also to many farmers with absolutely no clue on biosecurity and who's blaise approach to livestock farming effects the local farming community financially and mental health wise. This can't be allowed to carry on .
Farmers need to take personal responsibility first then tackle the wildlife vectors.
 
I think it should, if we were allowed to control vectors on individual farms , wouldn't that stop the arguments between farmers and also come across better to the public?

We pushed that idea, with the use of PCR to identify infected setts, rather than a wipe out.
But having trousered the thick end of £1m, the instigators of the best PCR assay, Warwick University's Liz Wellington and her team, decided that they 'didn't want the test used to cull badgers'.
I bet they berluddy well didn't. Ker ching.
 

holwellcourtfarm

Member
NFFN Member
Yep only two things that will significantly reduce bTB

1. Control of bTB in wildlife vectors.

2. Compulsory annual testing nationally.

Oh wait isn't that what we used to do......
Agreed but you are missing:

Compulsory pre movement testing
Compulsory isolation post movement.
No sharing of handling equipment between holdings.
Strict disinfection of commercial haulier vehicles between holdings except where multi pickup load is going straight to slaughter.
Compulsory prevention of direct contact with neighbouring cattle.

As @Treg says, we must all do our bit as well.
 
Sounds like already decided the cattle keepers need to do more despite the self evident wildlife vector. Dress that up however you like.

Bet they haven't highlighted two of the obvious ones:

Dismantling the local APHA (or whatever acronym it is this week) veterinary local offices

Putting the TB private testing in the hands of a tenderer that effectively means my own vet practice cannot justify ongoing registering of their own veterinary surgeons for private TB tests. Said new contractor in our entire region has a standard test fee of £150 + VAT 1-10 animals . So much for "risk based trading" I can just say I'm TB4 and not pre-movement test a bull I am selling on etc

Loads of companies are trying to get their noses into the TB testing trough, knowing that if they take the job away from vets they will be able to control huge swaths of the country and charge whatever they like basically. Will be legions of lay testers and it will give them an avenue to muscle in on your veterinary work, too. You wait and see.
 
Loads of companies are trying to get their noses into the TB testing trough, knowing that if they take the job away from vets they will be able to control huge swaths of the country and charge whatever they like basically. Will be legions of lay testers and it will give them an avenue to muscle in on your veterinary work, too. You wait and see.

That happened two years ago, when one group won the tender to test in England, by undercutting another group. That effectively priced independent vets out of the market, and once on farm.... as you say.
Not a healthy situation at all. And now the prices of visits and services are rocketing To balance their books.
Our vets sold out their large animal side and now concentrate on overweight dogs and clipping budgie’s toenails. Sad,
 
Location
Devon
Loads of companies are trying to get their noses into the TB testing trough, knowing that if they take the job away from vets they will be able to control huge swaths of the country and charge whatever they like basically. Will be legions of lay testers and it will give them an avenue to muscle in on your veterinary work, too. You wait and see.

The entire BVA new bTB policy position could accurately be renamed as;

Maintaining our income stream.
 

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