Bredy Veterinary Centre Ltd

DEFRA & Other Statutory Tests: TB, Anthrax & Abortions

The whole of our practice area is now subject to annual TB testing.  We also carry out pre-movement tests, often at very short notice – though it is helpful to have some warning.  The South West TB Farm Advisory Service  is a service available for farmers – please go direct to their website for further information: www.southwest-tbadvice.co.uk

Farmers should report sudden deaths in cattle and pigs to us because DEFRA may want to carry out an Anthrax test.

Farmers should also report abortions in cattle to us.  DEFRA has a duty to carry out Brucellosis surveillance, and this means the ministry are especially interested in abortions in dairy heifers and beef cattle.  To quote from their website: -

“Reporting abortions and early calvings”

The law requires cattle keepers to report every abortion or premature calving to an appropriate officer (a Veterinary Inspector) (that’ll be us) as required by Article 10 of the Brucellosis (England) Order 2000, Brucellosis (Scotland) Order 2000 and its equivalent in Wales.  An abortion or premature calving is defined as “an abortion or calving which takes place less than 271 days after service, or 265 days after implantation or transfer of an embryo, whether the calf is born dead or alive”.

Use of Gamma Interferon Test by APHA following a failed TB skin test

Since 1st April 2017, gamma testing is also compulsory for TB breakdowns with lesion and/or culture positive animals in the High Risk Area (HRA) of England where any of the following three criteria are met;
Criterion 1: The APHA veterinary investigation concludes that the most likely transmission route for the affected herd was contact with infected cattle and measures are in place to prevent further spread of disease from this source;
Criterion 2: The infected herd is located in one of the areas where at least two years of effective licensed badger population control have been completed;
Criterion 3: There is clear evidence that repeated skin testing of the herd has failed to resolve a TB breakdown

Bredy Vets have not had any client’s animals subjected to TB testing as yet, but criterion 2 is likely to affect our clients in the near future.  Where practical, gamma testing is completed before the first Short Interval Test (SIT) in new TB breakdowns.  If the gamma test is carried out at the same time as the skin test, the blood sample is taken before the injections of tuberculin on day 1 of the test (TT1) or after the reading of the skin test on day 2 of the test (TT2).  More information here

Changes in Management of “Resolved” IR’s October 2017 

“Resolved” IR’s are those which pass at a 2nd TB test.  These animals are now to be kept restricted for the rest of their life to the holding in which they were found.  The only permitted off movements for such animals will be to slaughter either directly or via an Approved Finishing Unit (AFU) under a licence issued by APHA.

Reported Changes in TB Testing Frequency, January 2018

Many clients have  been alarmed recently by reports in the farming press that the High Risk Area, (i.e. including Dorset) will be subject to 6 monthly testing.  These reports in fact referred to the Edge Area, (i.e. not Dorset), where more areas will be subject to 6 monthly testing from January 2018.  6 monthly testing will happen in the HRA, including Dorset, but not until 2019, and only on farms which have had a breakdown in the last 5 years.    Farms that have not had any reactors in the last five years, and farms that are accredited under the Cattle Herd Certification Standards (CHeCS) Scheme, (which requires observance of tougher biosecurity measures), will continue to be tested annually.  APHA (the Animal & Plant Health Agency, who carry out TB policy), have issued a briefing note for vets on changes in policy in the Edge Area, (Nov 2017), but so far no briefing note giving details on the planned changes to testing in the HRA has appeared.  This is likely to be published towards the end of 2018.

To check up to date news on TB testing usually requires referring to several sources, but the “TB Hub” is generally a good place to start.  http://www.tbhub.co.uk/tb-policy/england/expansion-of-the-edge-area-in-england-and-new-cattle-testing-arrangements/