Vaccine could see NZ herds TB-free

13 June 1997

Vaccine could see NZ herds TB-free

NEW ZEALANDS cattle could be TB free within 15 years after a breakthrough with the BCG vaccine used to protect humans against TB.

The prediction follows successful identification of genetic material in the human BCG vaccine which may clear the way for producers to use the vaccine in cattle, says a report in the May issue of New Zealand Dairy Exporter.

The vaccine has not previously been used in cattle because the current TB skin test would indicate that every vaccinated animal is infected with TB.

A team of researchers at Massey University are developing a test that will allow vaccinated cattle to be identified from infected cattle.

Animal trials using the new test are expected to start next year. The scientists predict that they will know whether the vaccine is going to work within five years. If it is successful, further trials will follow before commercial development.

UK scientists at MAFFs Central Veterinary Laboratory also report encouraging results with work differentiating BCG vaccination from TB infection, and are keen to collaborate with New Zealand researchers.

CVLs head of TB research, Glyn Hewinson, stresses that UK work is to develop a badger, rather than a cattle, vaccine.

A vaccine that would protect badgers against TBcould be available within 15 years, he says, but delivery in the field may be difficult and could delay its use. "Delivery to wildlife is difficult, but we take heart from the rabies vaccine programme used in Europe which has been effective in protecting foxes," says Dr Hewinson.

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