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TB in Non-Bovine Animals

TB in Non-Bovine Animals

Many species of non-bovine animals, including, camelids (alpaca, llama, vicuna, guanacos) deer, goats, sheep and pigs are susceptible to Mycobacterium bovis (M.bovis) infection.  These particular species are generally considered to be “spill-over hosts “meaning that they are unlikely to sustain the infection within their own population in the absence of infected cattle or other wildlife. However, they do have the potential to transmit disease to other susceptible co-located species, including cattle and also to humans with close contact. Only a relatively small number of such animals have been identified as infected each year and evidence suggests that these species appear to pose only a small risk of spreading TB to cattle.

Current Situation

Scotland was recognised as being officially TB free (OTF) by the European Commission in September 2009. The Scottish Government is committed to maintaining the current low levels of TB found in cattle and other species in order to safeguard our OTF status; this includes minimising all potential sources of infection and reducing the risk of disease spread as far as possible.

Although the cattle industry is strictly regulated for TB, there were limited legal powers in Scotland specifically covering the control of TB in non-bovine species.

On the 29 September 2014 a public consultation was launched by the Scottish Government seeking views on proposed legislative arrangements for preventing and managing incidents of TB in specified non-bovine species (alpaca, llama, vicuna, guanaco, deer, goats, sheep and pigs) including a proposal for payment of statutory compensation for those animals that are removed as TB reactors.

Responses to the consultation highlighted a significant level of support for the introduction of statutory arrangements and as a result, the Tuberculosis in Specified Animals (Scotland) Order 2015 was brought into force on the 9 October 2015. This new legislation revoked all previous GB legislation for TB in Deer and introduced a regime of TB controls covering all the above species. It also provided a framework of compensation values for those animals which are removed as TB reactors.

The new Order makes provision for the notification of disease in these specified animals, and in the carcases of wild deer, where they are affected or suspected of being affected with TB. 

It also sets out identification requirements and provides for a veterinary inquiry, skin and blood testing and the taking of samples to be carried out as required in order to establish whether disease is present. 

For the purpose of disease control, restriction notices relating to animal movements, isolation and the handling of milk from these animals and also biosecurity notices may be served by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

It should be emphasised however, that the intention is not to use this Order to introduce a routine herd testing regime for non-bovine animals or to introduce compulsory pre and post movement testing (as exists for cattle).  Instead the powers will only be used where disease is suspected or a TB incident is disclosed.  Non-bovine animals would generally be tested in the following circumstances:

  • Where disease is identified through post mortem examination.

  • Where animals are “traced” from known breakdown herds.

  • Other epidemiological situations where APHA believe testing is justified.