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APHA to expand PCR testing for bTB
PCR tests can return results in three weeks.
The initial rollout has been deemed a success.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) is to expand the use of PCR tests to confirm bovine tuberculosis (bTB) infection.

From 14 February 2024, the tests will be used in England, Wales and Scotland on post-mortem tissue samples from cattle that have tested positive for bTB, direct contacts, and privately or compulsory slaughtered or dead animals with an inconclusive skin test result.

The expansion follows an initial rollout which has seen PCR tests used since March 2022 in a limited number of situations, including slaughterhouse cases in cattle and non-bovines, and for domestic pets and exotics submitted to APHA for laboratory investigation.

PCR tests allow APHA laboratories to send results back to livestock keepers in three weeks. In comparison, microbiological culture tests can take up to 22 weeks. APHA hopes that this will allow herd movement restrictions to be lifted sooner than they previously would have been in certain situations.

Ele Brown, UK deputy chief veterinary officer, said: “Timely and reliable testing is essential in halting the spread of this insidious disease in animals, and the initial rollout of the PCR test has shown a tenfold improvement in testing turnaround time.”

David Holdsworth, APHA chief executive, added: “We know waiting for TB results can be a stressful time for farmers so reducing the time for results to be delivered has been a key focus for APHA.

“I am pleased that we have progressed to rolling out the PCR test to cover even more bovine TB samples and cut the time it takes to report these crucial results to livestock keepers to just three weeks.”

Image © Shutterstock

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Charities' XL bully neutering scheme closes

News Story 1
 A scheme that helped owners of XL bully dogs with the cost of neutering has closed to new applications due to high demand.

The scheme, run by the RSPCA, Blue Cross, and Battersea, has helped 1,800 dogs and their owners after XL bullies were banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

In England and Wales, owners of XL bully dogs which were over one year old on 31 January 2021 have until 30 June 2024 to get their dog neutered. If a dog was between seven months and 12 months old, it must be neutered by 31 December 2024. If it was under seven months old, owners have until 30 June 2025.

More information can be found on the Defra website. 

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News Shorts
Avian flu cattle outbreak spreads to tenth US state

Cattle in two dairy herds in Iowa have tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), making it the tenth state in the USA to be affected by the ongoing outbreak of the disease in cattle.

Since March 2024, more than 80 herds across the USA have been affected by the virus and three dairy workers have tested positive. Authorities have introduced measures to limit the spread of the virus and farmers have been urged to strengthen their biosecurity protocols.

Mike Naig, Iowa secretary of agriculture, said: "Given the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza within dairy cattle in many other states, it is not a surprise that we would have a case given the size of our dairy industry in Iowa.

"While lactating dairy cattle appear to recover with supportive care, we know this destructive virus continues to be deadly for poultry."