He says: “Another test for TB and Johne’s disease in goats, which is highly sensitive and specific, would be an extremely helpful additional tool in disease diagnoses for vets and farmers to use alongside existing tests.
“Any additional test would need to provide a reliable way of testing replacement animals, before their introduction into new herds or flocks, and of ensuring milk safety – such a test would be welcomed.”
Milk from goats and sheep is a growing market – in demand for drinking and for yoghurt and cheese making – with approximately 110,000 milking goats and 20-30,000 milking sheep now dotted across the UK.
Johne’s Disease in goats
The true prevalence of TB and Johne’s in goats and sheep is unknown. Yet the outbreak of TB in a herd of goats can spread extremely quickly, as it is thought they develop thin-walled lesions that are prone to bursting – rather than the granulomatous reactions, formed when trying to eliminate the infection, seen in cattle. This can lead to whole goat herds being culled, with a devastating economic and emotional outcome for producers.
Most existing TB and Johne’s tests, as with those used on cattle, rely on an animal’s immune response, which develops only as the disease progresses. Actiphage is able detect live infection from a single milk or blood sample within hours, offering an early warning system that enables improved disease control.
Yoav continues: “We are in a TB hotspot in Dorset, and have heard about the Gatcombe trial with Dick Sibley and the farm in Wales now trying to tackle TB with Actiphage – and that is why we are interested in this new diagnostic.”
Yoav specialises in small ruminant health and production at Friars Moor Livestock Health Ltd. and is currently in discussions with PBD Biotech about trials of Actiphage on milking goat herds, to help support the development of Actiphage as a highly sensitive and specific test that will hopefully deliver reliable and reproducible results.
Friar Moor Livestock Health Ltd runs the Dairy Sheep and Goat Conference, a two-day forum of international speakers, quality science and practical information. Actiphage, the promising new test for bovine TB and Johne’s disease, will be discussed with sheep and goat farmers and vets at the Annual Dairy Sheep and Goat Conference in Chepstow, south Wales, on 27 and 28 January 2020.