Overview

8. Additional TB information can be found on the Defra, Scottish Government (SG) and Welsh Government (WG) websites.

Policy Overview

1. The legislative framework for TB control is laid out in Council Directive 64/432/EEC and enacted in GB by domestic legislation passed by the Administrations in England, Scotland and Wales.

2. The Tuberculosis (England) Order (as amended), The Tuberculosis (Wales) Order (as amended) and The Tuberculosis (Scotland) Order (as amended) confer legal powers to Veterinary Inspectors (VIs) to serve a notice requiring the isolation of any kind of mammal (except man) affected or suspected of being affected with TB. Official Veterinarians (OVs) are not appointed as VIs and therefore cannot serve notices to require isolation. Instead legislative changes automatically apply movement restrictions in herds in which reactors or inconclusive reactors are identified without the need to serve a notice. Restriction notices may still be applied in certain circumstances, by an Inspector, e.g. when a herd goes under restriction for an overdue test.

3. Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) remains a challenging endemic animal health problem facing the farming industry in GB. The Government's Strategic Framework for the sustainable control of bovine tuberculosis in Great Britain, aims to achieve a common understanding of the disease with strong emphasis on disease prevention. In this way, Defra, the Scottish Government and Welsh Government work in partnership with other organisations to bring sustainable improvements to the control of TB, tailoring their strategies to reflect the regional variation in disease risk in addition to developments in scientific evidence.

Surveillance

1. Surveillance is the group of activities which provide early warning of animal health and welfare problems, allowing tracking and analysis of the way diseases spread.

2. Active surveillance for TB is the testing of clinically normal animals for TB. In addition to allowing detection of undisclosed infection with Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis), it can permit estimates of the frequency of TB in the country or provide evidence that the infection is not present. Active surveillance for TB is targeted, using agreed testing protocols appropriate to the prevailing disease situation

3. Passive surveillance for TB is the examination of suspect infection with Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis), either clinically or at post mortem. It involves the continuous monitoring of the existing disease status of the populations surveyed.

4. Both active and passive veterinary surveillance are important components of national systems to protect Great Britain's (GB) public and animal health, and both produce outputs that inform policy decisions on disease control.

Tagging of Reactor Cattle

1. The use of DNA marker tags was introduced in England and Wales for the following reasons:

  • to help identify and hence ensure the removal, valuation and slaughter of infected animals
  • to collect a tissue sample to discourage fraud and to help identify cases where it has taken place.

2. Following the roll out of this scheme in May 2011:

  • an OV based in Scotland who tests cattle on premises in England must apply DNA reactor tags to those animals
  • an OV based in England who tests cattle in Scotland will not need to apply these tags to cattle tested on premises in Scotland

3. The implementation of this scheme will be phased, with the first phase being where an animal is identified by a VO, OV or VI as a reactor at any tuberculin test. This includes pre-movement and other TB tests undertaken at the request of the cattle keeper. It also includes animals that are 2 x IR where this causes them to become a reactor.

4. In Scotland, any reactor cattle identified at the TB test by an OV, will be tagged by APHA staff at the valuation visit using a metal 'R' tag.