New TB testing regime a step forward, but not a solution on its own - NFU

UK - Defra’s decision to use the gamma-interferon blood test to increase the accuracy of the TB testing regime will be a useful step forward in detecting infection in cattle, but attacking TB at source remains the key to making lasting progress in controlling and eradicating the disease, says the NFU.
calendar icon 24 October 2006
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NFU Deputy President Meurig Raymond said: “The Government’s announcement of increased blood testing for TB is fine as far as it goes, but it still does not get to the root of the TB problem, which is the reservoir of disease in wildlife.

“The increased use of the gamma interferon blood test will make it easier to stamp out isolated outbreaks of disease, away from the main hotspot areas, where TB is not established in the badger population and cattle are not at risk of re-infection.

“But additional testing will be of little value to the thousands of farmers in the hotspot areas whose herds are constantly exposed to infection spreading from wildlife as a result of the Government’s refusal so far to deal with disease in badgers.

“The increased use of the gamma interferon test – which is known to produce a higher proportion of false positives – also reinforces the need for a fair system of compensation.

“An improved cattle testing regime is part of the answer to the spread of the disease. But it will make no difference to the source of the problem, and until we get to grips with that, TB will remain a scourge, to cattle, badgers and farmers alike.”

The new gamma interferon testing policy comes into force immediately and details are available on the Defra website at www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/tb/control/gamma.htm .

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