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Bovine Tuberculosis: Disease Control

Volume 508: debated on Wednesday 7 April 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what assessment he has made of the likely contribution to the effectiveness of his Department’s bovine tuberculosis policy of eliminating that disease in wildlife; and if he will make a statement; (325570)

(2) whether he plans to take steps to (a) eliminate and (b) reduce the incidence of bovine tuberculosis in wildlife.

The key issue with bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in wildlife is when the disease is transmitted to livestock.

The Veterinary Medicines Directorate issued a licence for the injectable badger vaccine on 24 March 2010. Steps are being taken to use this vaccine in badgers through the Badger Vaccine Deployment Project, which will assess and maximise the viability of using the injectable badger vaccine and to help us move towards the long term goal of an oral badger vaccine. Vaccination is not 100 per cent. effective in terms of protection. As with many other disease control strategies, vaccination is a risk reduction measure most likely to be successful in controlling bTB when considered alongside other disease control measures and not in isolation.

Government’s policy is that no licences will be issued for culling badgers for the purpose of preventing the spread of bTB in cattle, although we remain open to the possibility of revisiting this policy under exceptional circumstances, or if new scientific evidence were to become available.