New phase of trials starts for bTB vaccine
It is hoped that the new phase of trials will bring a deployable vaccine and skin test a step closer.

Researchers are seeking suitable farms to take part.

The APHA has announced today (6 February 2023) that field trials for a cattle vaccine and skin test for bovine tuberculosis (bTB) have moved to the next phase.

It represents another important step towards achieving the Government’s target of delivering a deployable vaccine and skin test in the next few years.

The disease continues to be a major health challenge in the UK, with more than 38,000 cattle in England and Wales slaughtered in 2021 to contain its spread.

The first phase, which began in July 2021, focused on the safety and performance of the Detect Infected among Vaccinated Animals (DIVA) skin test in unvaccinated animals. It was completed in May 2022 and analysis of the results is ongoing.

The newly-announced second phase will evaluate the safety of the CattleBCG vaccine and the safety and performance of the DIVA skin test in vaccinated cattle.

In a joint statement, the Chief Veterinary Officers from England, Scotland and Wales said: “Bovine TB represents one of the most difficult animal disease challenges the world faces today. We are making substantial progress in developing an additional tool to help eradicate this disease with the new cattle vaccine and DIVA skin test - and are very grateful to the vets and farmers taking part for their efforts in making this work on the ground.

“If this next phase is successful, this project takes us one step closer to a vaccine to be used in conjunction with other measures to tackle this insidious disease which impacts livestock farmers across the globe.”

The field trials will take place on at least five commercial farms and will involve at least 600 animals. Eville & Jones will conduct the research on behalf on the APHA.

The researchers are currently seeking farmers and veterinary practices to work with on farms that meet the following inclusion criteria:

  • Officially TB Free (OTF) herds in the Low Risk Area (LRA) of England or the Low TB Area (LTBA) of Wales
  • Herds that have been in existence for 8 years or more
  • A minimum of three continuous years free from TB (OTF status) with a routine Single Intradermal Comparative Cervical Test (SICCT) having been completed within 3 calendar years of Day -7
  • Not in a current radial or contiguous TB testing regime
  • Not in an active TB hotspot (as defined by APHA)
  • Not having purchased cattle from a higher TB risk area in the last 12 months (of Day -7)
  • No scheduled statutory TB test during the proposed study period (Day -7 to Day 91).

Those with a suitable farm, who are interested in taking part, should email Dr Lindsay Heasman.