The public consultation led by Defra was considering proposals to simplify surveillance testing and other disease control measures.
The process attracted 273 responses from individuals and 27 from organisations. The proposals set out in the consultation fell into the following broad categories:
- Streamlining and simplifying TB testing in the High Risk Area, based on default six- monthly routine herd testing
- Compensation arrangements
- TB testing costs for herds subject to more frequent testing
- Increased use of private vets to enhance the control of TB
- Sales of TB-restricted cattle
- Minor changes to the TB Order
The first proposal was accepted. Defra report says: “We will introduce default six monthly testing of cattle in the High Risk Area. This will allow identification and removal of TB infected cattle more quickly. It will also remove the need for a number of unplanned, unpredictable TB tests.
“We recognise that many affected herd owners will need flexibility around their testing dates. Although the current use of test date windows would allow up to eight months between tests, there will be an opportunity for a one-off adjustment of testing dates where this is necessary to reflect businesses’ farming practices. “This change will not take effect until 1 January 2019 at the earliest.”
Dr Berwyn Clarke, CEO of PBD Biotech, a TB diagnostic company comments: “We welcome consultation with the industry which allows a range of perspectives to be considered.
“However, the accuracy of the current technology used for testing is still a major limitation. It is disappointing that there is no mention of evaluating new and improved approaches to improve the sensitivity and make earlier and faster detection of the disease a possibility.”