Tuberculosis is a distressing, debilitating and life-threatening disease of cattle. It is also seen in goats, deer and badgers. It is a Notifiable Disease.

It is transmissible to man, either through sharing the same poorly-ventilated air space with infected animals or through the drinking of infected raw milk (unpasteurised). It is therefore a zoonosis.

It was more or less eliminated from the UK by the 1960s. However, it has made an unwelcome return. This has been blamed on the rise in badger populations, following legal protection of that species. However, other factors may also be at work. Culling badgers may not provide the eagerly-sought solution.

The modern test (comparative intradermal test) uses tuberculin from bovine and avian sources, for comparison. These are formulated according to EU standards. Before joining the EU, the UK used human and avian tuberculin, prepared to a different standard and, in our opinion, the test was more definitive and more easily read and interpreted.

The modern blood test may not be as precise as desired.

Testing is now less frequent than it was in the past.

Testing procedure must be rigorous, as must the reading on the third day. The injecting itself is a highly-skilled operation and the intradermal injection must be checked before releasing the animal. Identification and close inspection on the reading day are vital. If all these procedures are not diligent and precise, failures in efficacy of the test must result.

Nutrition is very important. Selenium intake in particular may affect resistance to infection.

Ventilation is very important, in helping an animal to avoid infection.

Stocking density will affect the ease of spread.

The AVMC is unable to undertake preventive treatment of herds without express permission from DEFRA, since this is a Notifiable Disease.

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