Badger vaccination moves a step closer

The first tuberculosis vaccine for badgers has been approved for use, bringing DEFRA’s vaccination programme a step closer.

DEFRA will introduce the five-year programme this summer in the six areas where TB has hit farms hardest.

★ Eccleshall area, Staffordshire

★ Bromyard to Tenbury Wells, Herefordshire and Worcestershire

★ North-east of Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

★ North West of Stroud, Gloucestershire

★ East of Tiverton, Devon

★ West of Tiverton, Devon

Each one is made up of a 300sq km catchment area that surrounds a 100sq km zone where badgers will be trapped, vaccinated, earmarked and then released by trained and licensed contractors.

The long-term aim is to extend these vaccination zones as more contractors are trained.

The vaccine will be identical to the BCG vaccine used to prevent TB in humans and will be manufactured in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Danish scientists have conducted safety trials and proved the vaccine is safe and effective, a Veterinary Laboratory Agency official has said.

The research was conducted by the VLA and the Food and Environment Research Agency and funded by DEFRA at a cost of £11m over 10 years.