In this section you can find the British Veterinary Association’s (BVA) latest advice on bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) – a notifiable disease that impacts on the health and welfare of animals.
bTB is a complex infectious zoonotic disease - which means it can be passed to humans from animals - caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis). It presents a significant risk to animal health and welfare due to an increasing prevalence of the disease in UK cattle herds and other mammalian species, particularly badgers.
bTB is one of the UK's most difficult animal health issues, with control measures costing the livestock industry and Government millions of pounds a year.
The continuing spread of TB within cattle and wildlife has an unacceptable impact on animal health and welfare and the potential for being a very serious risk to pulic health.
As a result, we have developed
- a BVA tuberculosis policy which calls for the control and eradication of bTB to be based on the application of sound scientific research coupled with the application of sound veterinary epidemiology
- a parliamentary briefing for MPs
- a policy brief on bTB to provide further information on the disease and prevention and control. This has been developed in consultation with the British Cattle Veterinary Association (BCVA).
In partnership with BCVA we have jointly developed a set of FAQs which BVA members may find useful. With BCVA, we have also developed a shorter version of the document which is available to download.
The House of Commons has issued an updated Standard Note which gives some more background on government policies on badger culling in England and Wales.
Changes to cattle measures from 1 July 2012
Changes to cattle movement controls came into force on 1 July 2012. At the same time changes to compensation policy, including reduced payments for owners of TB affected herds with overdue tests, were implemented. These changes aim to strengthen measures in place to reduce the risk of bTB being spread between cattle and are part of the Government's plan to eradicate the disease in England.
Further details on the new measures can be found in these Defra TB Information Notes
In December 2011, the Government gave the go ahead for controlled culling of badgers as part of the package of measures to tackle bTB. The approach will be piloted in two areas in 2013 to determine the ability of the proposed method of culling - controlled shooting - to remove the necessary number of badgers effectively and humanely.
In addition to a policy of badger control, the Government will work to continue to promote good biosecurity and invest 20 million pounds over the next five years to develop effective cattle and oral badger vaccines as soon as possible.
The BVA and BCVA support the Government's plans. You can read more about the BVA's views in our responses to these consultations
The Government's decision was subjected to Judicial Review, following a challenge by the Badger Trust. The High Court ruled against the Badger Trust on 12 July 2012, although the trust may still appeal. The BVA and BCVA welcomed the judgment.
Although in March 2011, the Welsh Government announced an order to authorise the destruction of badgers in the Intensive Action Area (IAA), they stated in June 2011 that they would instead be conducting a review of the scientific evidence base for the eradication of bTB in Wales.
In March 2012 the Welsh Government announced a project of badger vaccination within the IAA. This began in June 2012.
At the BVA Annual Welsh Dinner in July 2012, the BVA President expressed BVA's deep disappointment with the decision to halt the proposed badger cull (as BVA believes this to currently be the most effective way of controlling the disease in badgers).
Read BVA's responses to the Welsh Government Consultations on bTB
Further information for veterinarians on pre-movement testing.