Vets welcome ‘pragmatic’ amendments to TB testing during Covid-19
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has welcomed temporary amendments to bovine TB testing in England, Wales and Northern Ireland that will allow herd tests to continue safely during the Covid-19 pandemic.
England and Wales
The new measures in England and Wales, announced by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), came into force on Monday (May 4) following campaigning by the veterinary profession.
No movement restrictions will be placed on herds as long as the other eligible (older) animals in the herd have been TB tested with negative results within the relevant testing window.
In Northern Ireland, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has introduced measures whereby TB testing is being allowed to proceed only in exceptional circumstances where it can be carried out safely.
As of Monday, calves under 180 days old may be exempt from all TB herd test types if they cannot be tested in accordance with public health guidance.
The untested calves will be restricted and cannot be traded until they can be tested safely with a negative result.
BVA junior vice president James Russell welcomed the announcements.
“We are extremely pleased to see this pragmatic approach to bovine TB testing rules following urgent representations to the government by the veterinary profession,” he said.
While we recognise that it will have some effect on the overall interpretation of the TB status of herds, the amendment provides a risk-based approach that prioritises human safety and public health whilst allowing vets and farmers to continue vital animal health work during the Covid-19 restrictions.
“From a longer-term perspective, it will help vets maintain the food supply chain by controlling bovine TB through statutory controls.“
In Scotland, normal TB testing procedures still apply. If it’s not possible to safely TB test calves whilst maintaining social distancing, vets must record this on the test chart and the test will be incomplete.
If it is not completed within the testing window, then the whole test will become overdue.
The impact of the pandemic on TB testing will form a part of the discussion during BVA’s farm special Covid-19 webinar for the veterinary profession on Sunday, May 10.
Vets can register for the webinar here on The Webinar Vet page.