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Bovine Tuberculosis: Vaccination

Volume 481: debated on Tuesday 21 October 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what consideration he has given to the impact introducing a bovine tuberculosis vaccine for cattle will have on Britain’s tuberculosis free status; and what discussions he has had with the European Commission on this issue. (228377)

Cattle vaccines for bovine tuberculosis are currently prohibited under EU legislation.

Our proposals for cattle vaccination are being developed with industry and we are aware of their concerns and the desire to maintain trade which is linked to Officially Tuberculosis (TB) Free status.

Cattle vaccines are based on BCG and this interferes with the tuberculin skin test. Vaccinated animals would therefore appear to be infected and herds could not be declared Officially TB Free. Therefore, as part of the UK research programme we are developing what is known as a differential diagnostic test to allow vaccinated animals to be differentiated from infected animals (DIVA). Changes will be required to the EU legislation to allow this test to be used in place of, or alongside the tuberculin skin test to confer Officially TB Free status.

The use of cattle vaccines has been discussed with the European Commission. The Commission has indicated that an accredited DIVA test will be critical for a cattle vaccination policy.