Alternative multidose TB testing syringe
It has been brought to the attention of APHA that articles have been published in recent editions of veterinary publications about new TB testing guns available in the UK market. This new model is known as “V-grip” and is manufactured by N J Phillips.
In these articles, the author states that: “UK vet practices carrying out government bTB testing work have access to a new tuberculin gun.” And that: “There is no official requirement to use a single make of gun for TB testing work, so with tightening margins for work in this arena it makes sense for practices to explore valid cost-saving options.”
APHA has reviewed the information contained within the above articles and sought views from policy teams in all three administrations (England, Wales and Scotland). In principle, APHA does not endorse any specific type, design or model of TB testing syringes as long as they can all consistently deliver 0.1ml of tuberculin intradermally, leading to the formation of a skin nodule (“bleb”) shortly after injection. However, before any novel TB testing equipment can be used in the field, APHA, as the Competent Authority in Great Britain, needs to be satisfied that any alternative design is fit for purpose.
APHA has not been approached by the manufacturer of the V-grip multi-dose injecting syringes, neither has the veterinary practice that trialled this new equipment consulted APHA to consider it for use during official tuberculosis skin testing. APHA has not yet been provided with any data on performance characteristics (eg accuracy, repeatability), especially in relation to the currently approved models. APHA is concerned about alternative TB testing equipment being used without its prior knowledge or approval.
The current tuberculin skin testing instructions for Official Vets and APHA TB testers state that one pair of McLintock or dental type syringes calibrated to administer 0.1ml must be used to inject tuberculin. Consequently, for the time being, the use of V-grip syringes for tuberculin skin testing is in breach of the standing tuberculin skin testing protocol.
Official Veterinarians who during audits are found using these V-grip multidose injecting syringes while carrying out official tuberculin skin testing will have their audit result recorded as non-compliant. APHA is open to review its current position once it has had the opportunity to evaluate any robust evidence available that supports the suitability of the new multi-dose syringe for the purpose of carrying out tuberculin skin tests.
Further OV briefings
Changes to compensation paid for cattle compulsorily slaughtered for bovine TB control in England
From 1 November 2018 there will be changes to The Cattle Compensation (England) Order 2012. There will be a reduction in compensation of 50 percent for animals which arrive at the slaughterhouse too dirty to process and a reduction in compensation of 50 percent for animals brought into a herd during a TB breakdown which are subsequently removed as reactors or direct contacts prior to the herd regaining official TB-free status. Compensation will be paid for privately slaughtered reactors if they are found to be totally condemned for reasons of TB only.
Where reactors are found at a skin test and the animals are in a dirty condition, the owner needs to be advised of the requirement to present the animal clean enough to be processed at the slaughterhouse. The FSA has an information leaflet “Clean Beef Cattle for Slaughter (a guide for producers)”, available online, which defines the criteria for “too dirty to be processed”. If found to be too dirty at the slaughterhouse, a welfare investigation visit is likely to be conducted and compensation reduced by 50 percent in addition to any other reductions already in force.
Additional TB control measures in Wales
Additional TB control measures are being implemented in the Intermediate TB Area North (ITBAN) of Wales from 13 November 2018. In response to the sustained and significant increase in the incidence of new TB breakdowns in the ITBAN seen since late 2016, from 13 November 2018, the Welsh government is introducing additional TB control measures in this area. These measures will support the Welsh government’s TB Eradication Plan and will provide further protection for the adjoining Low TB Area of Wales from the spread of bovine TB.
The introduction of additional contiguous testing aims to enhance surveillance and the provision of bespoke advice to cattle keepers will enable them to reduce the risk of TB entering the herd, to detect infection quickly and slow the rate of new TB incidents.
Cattle herds neighbouring a TB breakdown herd in the ITBAN will be subject to additional contiguous testing. Following the initial contiguous test (CON test), the herd will be subject to a contiguous (CON6) test, six months after the initial CON test, followed by another CON6 test after a further six months. This will be followed by a final contiguous (CON12) test, 12 months after the second CON6 test.
Cattle keepers in the ITBAN, whose herd has carried out and passed a CON test, will be offered the chance to have a Cymorth “Keep it Out” visit from their OV. Those whose herd did not pass the CON test will continue to be offered the normal Cymorth TB breakdown visits. The Cymorth “Keep it Out” visit can be accessed once within the 18-month period from the initial scheduling of their qualifying CON test.
The full OV briefing notes can be viewed here.