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Field trials for TB vaccine and skin test kickstarted in England

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A photo of a cow taking part in the clinical field trials.There is widespread media coverage today following the launch of the world’s first clinical field trials of the BCG vaccine and DIVA skin test for bovine tuberculosis (bTB) on a cattle farm in Hertfordshire. The story was covered by the Mirror, Telegraph, Daily Star, Express, I News, Farmers Weekly and Farming UK.

The UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss was also interviewed by BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today and New Scientist about the new trials and how they can revolutionise our approach to tackling bTB.

A bTB-free farm has commenced the first phase of these trials to determine the safety and accuracy of the DIVA skin test, with further herds across England and Wales to join them over the coming months. If the first phase is successful, the study will then be expanded to more farms in England and Wales part of its second phase, to test both the CattleBCG vaccine and DIVA skin test together.

In a joint statement the Chief Veterinary Officers from England, Scotland and Wales said:

Bovine Tuberculosis represents one of the most difficult animal disease challenges we face today. However, the start of these ground-breaking field trials will be welcome news for many farmers who have been greatly impacted by this disease and represents an important step forward in our efforts to deploy a working cattle vaccine by 2025.

If successful, the world-leading project could lead to the first ever deployment of a cattle bTB vaccine and DIVA skin test and will be instrumental in turning the tide against this terrible disease which impacts many countries around the world.

If the overall field trials are successful, farmers and vets will move a step closer to being able to vaccinate their animals against the disease, helping to save thousands of cattle every year that would have otherwise been culled. The skin test which will accompany the vaccine also represents a major breakthrough by enabling vets to identify cattle that have been vaccinated and those that are infected with the disease – to date this has not been possible.

More information about the bTB cattle vaccination programme can be found on the APHA Science Blog and on the TB Hub.

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