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Bovine Tuberculosis

Volume 448: debated on Tuesday 4 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) whether his Department has assessed published research into the use of the gamma interferon tuberculosis test in other countries; (81472)

(2) what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the gamma interferon tuberculosis test; and what sources of information he has used to inform that assessment.

[holding answer 3 July 2006]: Defra has assessed research on the value and uses of the gamma interferon (gIFN) blood test in other countries, including Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and Europe. The test is now a standard tool in the cattle testing armoury of European countries with endemic TB problems, like the Republic of Ireland, Italy, Spain, Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

The gIFN test can detect some infected animals that are negative in the SICCT test (skin test) and may detect animals at an earlier stage of infection. However, the gIFN test is slightly less specific than the SICCT test, which means that it is also more likely to incorrectly identify negative animals as being infected.

In addition to evidence from overseas research, and in order to further improve bTB diagnostics, the Government have conducted a field trial to assess the potential benefits of using of the gIFN blood test in GB. This helped to establish that the use of this test, in parallel with the skin test, has the potential to significantly increase the detection of infected cattle where TB has been confirmed, and so hasten the elimination of infected cattle. Preparations are now being made for wider use of the gIFN test in prescribed circumstances. The results of the field trial on gIFN usage will be published shortly.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what total land area of England was under an (a) annual, (b) two yearly, (c) three yearly and (d) four yearly bovine tuberculosis testing regime in 2005. (80151)

[holding answer 26 June 2006]: The information requested is set out in the following table:


12 monthly testing


24 monthly testing


36 monthly testing


48 monthly testing