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Northern Ireland’s TB status could be helped by new Actiphage test
Actiphage directly detects and identifies the bacteria responsible for causing TB.

DAERA urged to take all relevant steps to improve current TB testing in Northern Ireland

PBD Biotech, a UK-based diagnostic technology company, has developed a new bovine TB test which could help the TB status in Northern Ireland.

Actiphage, a rapid diagnostic test, directly detects and identifies the bacteria responsible for causing TB infection. This is different from other TB tests which rely on an immune response. Trials of Actiphage have consistently confirmed the test’s ability to detect the bacteria in both milk and blood at less than 10 cells per sample.

Yesterday’s (27 November 2018) Northern Ireland Audit Office Report concluded that all relevant steps to improve the current bovine TB testing regimen in Northern Ireland should be taken by the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

In October 2018, DAERA met with PBD Biotech to explore how the Actiphage test could be incorporated into their TB eradication programme.

Commenting on yesterday’s Audit Office Report, Dr Berwyn Clarke, PBD Biotech’s chief executive, said: “It is vital that this hidden reservoir of infection is eradicated; otherwise, all other interventions will have very little benefit. And the unreliability of the tests cast doubt on whether TB-free status is genuinely the case.”

Actiphage has already been included in the UK Government’s ‘exceptional private use’ policy for chronic TB breakdowns in England. This development was guided by Actiphage’s field validation during studies performed by farm animal vet, Dick Sibley. Sibly previously helped to clear a dairy herd in Devon that had been infected with TB by integrating Actiphage into a disease management programme.

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Wales to ban third party puppy and kitten sales

News Story 1
 The Welsh Government has said it will ban third party sales of puppies and kittens, after a consultation showed overwhelming public support.

A consultation in February received nearly 500 responses, most of whom called for greater action to improve the welfare of cats and dogs at all breeding premises.

Concerns were also raised about online sales, impulse buying, breeder accountability and illegal puppy imports.

A consultation will now be held on plans to implement a ban. Environment minister Lesley Griffiths said she will also revisit the current breeding regulations to improve welfare conditions.  

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WHO declares Congo Ebola outbreak an international health emergency

The World Health Organisation has declared the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

The move comes after a meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee for Ebola in the DRC. The committee cited recent developments in the outbreak in making its recommendation, including the first confirmed case in Goma - a city of almost two million people on the border with Rwanda, and the gateway to the rest of DRC and the world.

The committee also reinforced the need to protect the livelihoods of the people most affected by the outbreak by keeping transport routes and borders open.