The FUW has welcomed the announcement that researchers have developed 2 candidate skin tests for bovine TB which are able to differentiate between cattle infected with the disease and those which have been vaccinated against the disease.
The ‘DIVA’ test was created by researchers from teams within the UK, Ethiopia, India, the Netherlands and the USA and includes work undertaken by Ser Cymru Chair, Professor Glyn Hweinson, based at the Department of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences at Aberystwyth University.
The development of a DIVA test is a crucial step in bovine TB control. Vaccination of cattle against bovine TB is currently illegal under EU and International law as it is impossible to determine if a positive result emanates from bovine TB infection or vaccination. The DIVA skin test mitigates this issue as the test will provide a positive result in infected animals, whilst vaccinated animals will be negative.
The DIVA test must now be evaluated in field trials to ensure that it satisfies World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) standards. It is likely that this test will therefore not be available for use within the next 5 years.
Whilst the FUW welcomes this positive step forward, it must be recognised that the availability of a cattle vaccination against bovine TB is not the whole answer and does not represent a ‘silver bullet’ to TB eradication. Vaccination is not 100 percent effective and a DIVA test, which leads to vaccination, is just one ‘tool in the tool box’ for future eradication and control policies.