Test developed to find TB on farms

 A SIMPLE, RAPID and robust test has been developed for the detection of Mycobacterium Bovis – the bacteria responsible for bovine tuberculosis – in infected farm areas by academics at Warwick University.

The test, based on the Polymerase Chain Reaction test, can be used to test soil, feedstocks and water troughs, amongst others things, and will return a simple “infected” or “clean” result to any tested sample.  

The test is inexpensive and fast to use: Two operators could process up to 100 samples a week.  However, the scientists acknowledge that the test is not yet sufficiently robust for use in the field. 

The test is not able to indicate whether the detected environmental M. Bovis cells are infectious or not and therefore there is no understanding of the risk for TB transmission to cattle.

Conservative MP Owen Paterson has written to junior DEFRA minister Ben Bradshaw urging him to commission a field trial to evaluate the effectiveness of the test in identifying TB in the environment around badger setts.  

He has also asked for a second trial – to run parallel – into the diagnosis of TB in cattle living alongside these badger setts, using nose and throat swabs to investigate the link between the two species.