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Bovine Tuberculosis

Volume 460: debated on Thursday 17 May 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 28 April 2007, Official Report, column 1230W, on bovine tuberculosis, what steps he is taking to increase the speed with which results of tests to determine the presence of bovine TB in cattle are conveyed to the owner. (136242)

Bovine tuberculosis test results are conveyed to the herd owner as quickly as possible.

Skin test results are already provided to the farmer on the day the test results are collected. Gamma-interferon blood tests require samples to be sent to the Veterinary Laboratory Agency (VLA) for processing. Since the roll-out of this method in October 2006, the average turnaround time from receipt of the sample to issuing a result by email to the submitting Animal Health Divisional Office (AHDO) has been 2.01 working days. It would be impossible for the VLA to complete this any quicker as it is an overnight assay.

Animal Health try to contact the herd owner the day they receive the results from the VLA. If this is not possible, the herd owner would be contacted the following day. Dependent upon the circumstances, AHDOs call or write to the herd owner to explain the results.

It is difficult to see how the procedure for disclosing test results to owners could be sped up.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) how many bovine tuberculin skin tests were carried out by lay testers in each year between 2004 and 2007; (137032)

(2) how many lay testers were involved in tuberculosis testing in each year between 2004 and 2007.

[holding answer 15 May 2007]: The information requested is set out in the following table:

Bovine tuberculin skin tests carried out by lay testers

Trainee lay testers

Trainees that performed testing

Certified after training to perform unsupervised testing

2004

0

0

0

0

2005

4,740

34

23

1

2006

22,737

33

24

13

20071

7,422

20

8

7

1 To date

During training, lay testers only perform tests under the supervision of a qualified vet. After training, lay testers perform the tests but qualified vets interpret the results to determine a diagnosis of the tested animals.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether cattle tested for tuberculosis by a lay tester would have the necessary clearance for live export from the UK. (137036)

[holding answer 15 May 2007]: European Council Directive 64/432/EEC requires cattle more than six weeks old to have reacted negatively to an intradermal tuberculin test carried out during the 30 days prior to export. Although technical staff employed by Animal Health have been recognised as ‘approved tuberculosis testers’, lay testers are not used for pre-export testing of cattle for tuberculosis (TB). This is in accordance with the Veterinary Surgery (Testing for TB in Bovines) Order 2005, and there are no plans to change this policy.