A team headed by two Welsh scientists has developed new tests for cattle which could allow the vaccination against Bovine TB (bTB) rolled out globally within five years. While existing skin tests can identify bTB, they cannot distinguish between a cow that actually has the disease or whether it has been vaccinated. This means that the bTB vaccine that is currently available is banned in many countries around the world, including the EU and the USA.
The innovative breakthrough comes after 20 years of research from Professor Glyn Hewinson and Professor Martin Vordermeier of Aberystwyth University, and their team of international scientists from Ethiopia, India, the Netherlands, UK and US. Together, they have developed two skin tests, dubbed the ‘DIVA tests’, diagnostic tests to Differentiate Infected from Vaccinated Animals, that can identify the difference between infected and vaccinated cattle, finally allowing the vaccine to be given to cows.
A step towards the control of Bovine TB
Head of the new Centre of Excellence for Bovine TB at Aberystwyth University and one of the leads in developing this new test, Professor Glyn Hewinson is excited about the potential new drug and is quoted as saying ‘it would be wonderful if either of these tests succeeds in bringing about significant improvements in the control of bovine TB globally’. However, he goes on to state that the vaccination is not a cure but ‘a significant step forward in our efforts to control this disease.’
The test is yet to be approved by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) but if accepted, farmers could see a vaccination for bTB within the next five years. This will come as a great relief to British dairy farmers who have suffered almost 44,000 slaughtered cattle in the last 12 months in an attempt to contain the disease.
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