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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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Report: A third of Welsh birds are in decline

News Story 1
 A report by RSPB Cymru and partnering ornithology organisations has revealed that a third of bird species in Wales are in significant decline.

90 per cent of Wales is farmed and there is now pressure to implement new land management policies that will aid in nature restoration.

Patrick Lindley, Maritime Ornithologist for Natural Resources Wales, commented: “The problems that confront UK birds, whether they are breeding or non-breeding, are pressure and threats that confront entire ecosystems.

“Birds are a great indicator to the health of our environment. The continued population declines of birds of farmed, woodland and upland habitats suggest there are large geographic themes that are having a detrimental impact.”  

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News Shorts
British sheep meat to be exported to India in new agreement

The UK government has secured a new export deal of sheep meat to India.

In 2017, UK sheep meat exports were worth £386 million. This new agreement is predicted to increase this value by £6 million over the next five years.

With a range of meat cuts due to be exported, the deal is seen by international trade secretary, Dr Liam Fox MP, as “another vote of confidence in our world-leading food and drink”.