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Scientists develop new bTB test
The Actiphage test can detect live bacteria in blood or milk in as little as six hours.
Test can detect infected cattle before infection spreads

A new testing kit for bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is set to bring fresh hope to farmers across the United Kingdom.

Developed by PDB Biotech, the Actiphage test can detect live bacteria in blood or milk in as little as six hours and has been proven to identify infected cattle before infection spreads.

“The existing skin test is based on the animal’s immune response, and takes three days to produce a result, but more worryingly is known to miss about 20 per cent of infected animals,” said Dr Cath Rees, co-founder of PBD Biotech.

“Our new test is unique as it is the only test that directly detects live bacteria in blood or milk and is fast, specific and highly sensitive. Additionally the test can distinguish between a vaccinated and an infected animal (DIVA test) paving the way for new types of disease control in the future when vaccines are available.”

The launch of the test follows a trial in the West Country with veterinary surgeon Dick Sibley. Sibley tested for bTB in blood, milk and faeces and found that the phage test was able to detect infection months before the skin test gave a positive result. By using the test, and introducing strict biosecurity and hygiene controls, Sibley managed to reduce levels of bTB from the herd, leading to the first clear skin test results for five years.

PBD Biotech states that the test is not yet licensed for commercial use. However, it is available for research and validation studies, which are vital for approval by Defra and other global authorities.

They add that it could also be used by the dairy industry, allowing for the rapid detection of contaminated milk. It may also give cows a clean bill of health before travel, preventing disease spread and giving the industry new ways to control movement of potentially infectious animals.

The test will be available from the end of November 2017 via

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Outreach work in Mongolia aims to learn about Pallasís cat

News Story 1
 The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) is supporting work in Mongolia to help improve understanding of the Pallasís cat (Otocolobus manul). The society is working with local communities to raise awareness and learn more about how people interact with the cats. The aim is to gather knowledge on the species and the threats it faces, to inform global conservation efforts.  

News Shorts
New canine health awareness week launches

The Kennel Club has launched Canine Health Week (13-19 November) to raise awareness of the most common health issues in dogs. Canine Health Week is set to become an annual initiative to highlight resources, research and information to make a difference to dog health.

According to clinical veterinary data from VetCompass, the five most common health issues are ear canal disease, dental disease, anal sac impaction, overgrown nails and arthritis. It is hoped the awareness week will help to familiarise dog owners with common conditions, to better meet the healthcare needs of their dogs.