Responsibility for ensuring that legally required bovine tuberculosis (TB) tests are completed on time rests with cattle owners. However, Animal Health gives every cattle owner advance notification of the two to three-month period in which their test must be completed. These notification letters also make it clear that herd movement restrictions will be applied immediately a test becomes overdue. This provides motivation for herd owners to get tests completed on time, and reduces the risk of disease spread from herds with an unknown TB status. Veterinary practices are also advised of the test due dates for their clients’ herds.
However, a significant number of TB tests are still not completed in the required timeframe. To help reduce this number, Animal Health is developing new, more robust enforcement protocols.
Government recognise the importance attached to removing infected animals from farms as quickly as possible. Within England, Animal Health is meeting its current target of removing 90 per cent. of TB reactors within 20 working days. As at the end of December 2008 91.4 per cent. (18,102) of the reactors taken in England since 1 April 2008 had been removed within 20 days.
From 1 April 2009 the Animal Health target will be tightened further to 10 working days. This is a challenging target, one which Animal Health will only be able to meet if it has full co-operation from farmers and vets.