July 23, 2020


Government oks bovine TB vaccine trials to phase out badger culling


The Government of England and Wales has given the green light to field trials of a vaccine for bovine tuberculosis (TB) to phase out badger culling for disease control, Evening Express reported.

The trials aim to accelerate deployment of a TB vaccine by 2025, the Government announced.

It forms part of a strategic shift to phase out the culling of badgers, a protected species which can transmit the disease to livestock, and has been made possible by a breakthrough test by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). (http://m.efeedlink.com/contents/03-09-2020/75474ad9-d1df-4a0b-b59d-7d1b0efdf2f4-a003.html)

It was not previously possible to vaccinate cattle as tests for the disease could not differentiate between vaccinated animals and those which had bovine TB.

The field trials will take place in two phases, with the second dependent on the resultof the first.

The first will determine how likely the testwould correctly give a negative result for uninfected animals and its safety in about 300 unvaccinated animals from five TB-free herds in England and Wales.

The second phase will establish the safety of the vaccine and the test in vaccinated cattle in about 2,000 cattle, 1,000 of which will be vaccinated and the rest used as a control.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said, "Bovine TB is a slow-moving and insidious disease which can cause considerable trauma for farmers as they suffer the loss of highly prized animals and valued herds.

This scientific breakthrough is a major step forwards in our battle to see the disease eradicated from this country.

As wider preventative measures like cattle vaccines are introduced, we will accelerate other elements of our strategy and start to phase out badger culling, as no one wants to continue the cull of a protected species indefinitely."

UK chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss said, "Whilst there is no single way to combat this damaging and complex disease, cattle vaccination is a potential new tool for our multi-pronged approach to tackle it and importantly prevent it, providing vital support to our farming communities."

Other measures in the new strategy include improving the cattle testing regime and vaccinating more badgers.