Recent and upcoming policy changes in Scotland and England - Veterinary Practice
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Recent and upcoming policy changes in Scotland and England

There are recent and upcoming policy changes regarding tuberculosis monitoring and surveillance in Scotland and England

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There are a number of recent and upcoming policy changes regarding tuberculosis monitoring and surveillance in Scotland and England.

Changes in Scotland

The Tuberculosis (Scotland) Order 2023 came into force on 18 May 2023.

The new order consolidates the statutory provisions for bovines contained in the previous tuberculosis (TB) order and its several amendment orders, and also introduces legislative changes to pre-movement testing, biosecurity requirements and compensation penalties.

These changes include:

  • Shortening the period during which a pre-movement test with negative results remains valid, from the current 60 days to 30 days after tuberculin injection
  • Ending the practice of accepting a clear final short interval test (SIT), inconclusive reactor (IR) retest or equivalent test at the end of all TB breakdowns as a valid pre-movement test
  • Including requirements for “isolation” in legislation to ensure that proper isolation of reactors, inconclusive reactors (IRs) and dangerous contacts (DCs) is undertaken
  • Reducing compensation for reactors, IRs or DCs which are not properly isolated by 95 percent
  • Reducing compensation for unclean cattle at slaughter by 50 percent

These legislative changes are intended to minimise the risks from all potential sources of infection and reduce the risk of disease spread as far as possible. They specifically aim to:

  • Reduce the risk of disease entering the country by adding extra precautions for animals coming from higher areas of infection
  • Strengthen the protection of the main herd against onward spread of infection from any reactors or suspect reactors
  • Incentivise compliance with the rules and encourage cattle keepers to keep their animals clean and promote better animal health and welfare

The Scottish Government released a press note, updated the TB related information in GOV.SCOT, emailed relevant stakeholders to provide information on the changes and the Chief Veterinary Officer Scotland wrote a letter to all cattle keepers in Scotland.

Changes in England

From 1 August 2023, cattle (which includes farmed bison and Asiatic water buffalo) moved to herds in annual surveillance testing parts of the Edge Area will require compulsory post-movement testing if they originate from higher TB incidence areas of England (high risk area (HRA) and six-monthly surveillance testing parts of the Edge Area) and from Wales.

​​​​​​​Cattle moving from annually tested herds in the HRA or six-monthly surveillance testing parts of the Edge Area (ie, those that qualify for earned recognition) are also required to be post-movement tested.

This policy change applies to direct movements of cattle from one holding to another holding and to indirect movements of cattle via markets and shows.

A small number of specific exemptions to post-movement testing will apply, mirroring those that already apply in the low-risk area of England (LRA).

Cattle that require a post-movement test cannot move to other holdings until the post-movement test has been completed with negative results, unless a specific exemption applies.

Cattle keepers will need to arrange and pay for post-movement testing. A government-funded whole herd surveillance test can be used as a post-movement test if the timing works.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) wrote to all cattle keepers in annual surveillance testing parts of the Edge Area in early June 2023 to notify them of the policy change.

Once the policy is implemented on 1 August 2023, for a limited time only, APHA will send monthly notification letters to keepers identified as bringing in cattle that may need a post-movement test.

Also, APHA will cease producing the monthly notifications for cattle keepers in the LRA that have moved cattle from other parts of England or Wales into their herds and potentially require to be post-movement tested.

Ultimately, cattle keepers are responsible for ensuring that they comply with TB testing rules.

More information is available in the TB Hub.

Briefing notes

APHA released the following Official Veterinarians (OVs) (and Approved Tuberculin Testers (ATTs)) Briefing Notes informing and providing instructions:

  • 16/23: Changes to the TB181/TB181(Welsh) Information Note – 09 May 2023 – Changes to the TB181/TB181(Welsh) Information Note – 09 May 2023
  • 15/23: Change to post-movement TB testing requirements in England from 1st August 2023 – 12 April 2023
  • 14/23: Changes to bovine TB Controls and Compensation Arrangements in Scotland – 12 April 2023

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