Rapid bovine TB test trailed at Welsh dairy farm

Posted on 23 Jan 2020
Rapid bovine TB test trailed at Welsh dairy farm

A farm in Wales that has been plagued by bovine TB for over 3 years is now trialling a new blood test which is hoped will eliminate the disease from the farm. 

Dairy farmer tormented by bovine TB 

Mossman Farm near Llangrannog, Ceredigion in Wales, has lost more than half of its cattle over the past 3 years because of bovine TB, a slow-growing bacterium that causes general illness, coughing and, eventually, death. In wales alone, 12,799 cattle were slaughtered last year because of bovine TB, which is a 28% year on year increase. 

The area of Wales where Mossman Farm is located has suffered particularly from the deadly disease, so when owner of the dairy farm, Chris Mossman, heard about a successful trial that cleared bovine TB from a farm in Devon, he was keen to take part. “TB is a massive problem in Ceredigion, so when I heard about Actiphage’s use at Gatcombe, helping to clear that dairy herd for the first time in six years, I wanted to try to replicate those findings here.”

The new test is being trailed on dairy farms 

The trial looks into the effectiveness of a new rapid blood test called Actiphage, which detects even low levels of M. Bovis, the pathogen that causes this devasting disease, far earlier than current methods. Indeed, test developer PBD Biotech believe the Actiphage test has the potential to revolutionise the way bovine TB is controlled, as it claims it can detect the disease within mere hours of a blood or milk sample. 

It was in the spring of 2019 that the Office of the Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales gave permission for vet Robert Price-Jones to lead the trial, which involved testing Actiphage to screen high risk cattle for bovine TB. He explains: “Actiphage is able to identify the presence of relatively low numbers of M. bovis in the blood stream of infected cattle. It is not dependent upon an immune system response to the pathogen - in contrast to current validated tests - and so has greater sensitivity than such as the official Tuberculin SICCT skin test. 

“The benefit of using Actiphage is that it offers the potential for eradicating the disease from the farm; as early identification of animals at risk of bovine TB enables heightened disease management and control.”

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