PCR testing for bTB to be extended in ‘significant’ development

1st February 2024
Industry News
The use of PCR testing for bTB is to be expanded to more sample types from next month following a successful initial rollout.

Officials say the move represents a “significant step” forward and will enable them to provide much quicker results for more farmers than current culture-based techniques.

From 14 February, the PCR test will be used across England, Scotland and Wales to analyse postmortem tissue samples from cattle that have tested positive for the disease.

‘Key focus’

The method will also be used to assess direct contact, as well as dead animals, including those privately or compulsorily slaughtered, with an inconclusive skin test.

The APHA said the PCR method cuts the time taken to report results to three weeks from a maximum of 22 weeks using culture tests.

Its chief executive, David Holdsworth, said: “We know waiting for TB results can be a stressful time for farmers, so reducing the time for results to be delivered has been a key focus for APHA.

“I am pleased that we have progressed to rolling out the PCR test to cover even more bovine TB samples and cut the time it takes to report these crucial results to livestock keepers to just three weeks.

“This is a significant step for APHA and we will continue to work tirelessly in the fight to eradicate this disease.

Case areas

Until now, PCR tests have only been used in three case areas:

  • Slaughterhouse cases in both cattle and non-bovine animals
  • Non-bovine animals removed as test reactors, direct contact or clinical suspects, plus cases identified during post-mortem examinations
  • Domestic pets or exotic species

UK deputy CVO Ele Brown said: “Timely and reliable testing is essential in halting the spread of this insidious disease in animals, and the initial rollout of the PCR test has shown a tenfold improvement in testing turnaround time.

“I am pleased that its use will now be extended even further, ensuring that APHA can continue its vital role in detecting disease on farms, and give farmers earlier certainty of disease in their herd.”

Credit to:  PCR testing for bTB to be extended in ‘significant’ development (Vet Times)

Vet Times. (2023).  PCR testing for bTB to be extended in ‘significant’ development [online]

Available at:  https://www.vettimes.co.uk/news/pcr-testing-for-btb-to-be-extended-in-significant-development/