Farmers needed for TB cattle vaccine field trials

Farmers are being sought to take part in field trials of a new TB cattle vaccine and associated diagnostic test.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency has awarded the contract to veterinary firm Eville & Jones to lead the field trials, which will get under way later this year.

The project will involve veterinary field trials of the cattle Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine and the associated differentiating infected and vaccinated animals (Diva) diagnostic skin test, called DST-F.

See also: Next phase in Defra bovine TB strategy explained

The Contract Research Organisation (CRO) is now seeking to work with interested farmers and veterinary practices to support the field trials on suitable farms that meet the inclusion criteria.

The first phase of the project aims to determine the safety and specificity of the Diva test in TB-free herds in the low-risk area of England and the low TB-incidence area in Wales.

Phase one of the trial requires between five and 10 farms. In addition, the following herd criteria need to be met:

  • Officially TB-free for eight years or more
  • Not in a current TB hotspot or in a radial or contiguous testing regime
  • TB test window of May to October 2021, or be willing to undertake an additional private TB test on selected trial animals
  • Approximate herd size of 60+ animals
  • Availability of the same practice vet to visit the herd every day for two weeks
  • Ideally, a closed herd or with minimal purchases (for example, stock bull only).

The first phase of the trials (2021) will determine the safety and specificity of the Diva test.

Phase two, with a forecast start date in February 2022, will include BCG vaccination of cattle and use of the Diva technology (DST-F) in approximately 1,000 cattle from at least seven herds in the high TB risk or edge areas. 

If the trials progress well, a TB cattle vaccine and Diva test could be deployed in the field by 2025.

Any cattle farmer who are interested in taking part and believes their farm meets the criteria should contact Dr Lindsay Heasman, by emailing lindsay.heasman@eandj.co.uk. Details of contractual arrangements will follow on enquiry.