Breakthrough in bovine TB vaccine to end badger culls
BRITISH scientists have made a breakthrough which may enable cattle to be vaccinated against TB, doing away with the need to cull the badgers believed to be infecting them.
Currently, vaccinating cattle against bovine tuberculosis is banned throughout Europe, because there is no way of distinguishing between an animal that has been vaccinated, and an animal that has actually contracted the disease.
Vaccinated but healthy cattle would thus appear contaminated and could not be sold or traded abroad -- and TB vaccination of cattle has been prohibited across the EU since 1978.
However, researchers led by Professor Glyn Hewinson, of Animal Health and the Veterinary Laboratories Agency in Weybridge, Surrey, have developed a so-called "diva" test -- meaning differentiation of infected from vaccinated animals -- which makes the distinction between the two clear.
Such a test would enable the government to ask the EU for the law to be changed, so cattle could be immunised against a disease which is rapidly spreading in parts of Britain, and has precipitated the controversial badger cull that is about to start.
However, both the vaccine and the test have to be validated by regulatory agencies, a long and complex process which "may take years", according to Chief Veterinary Officer, Nigel Gibbens. (© Independent News Service)