The Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA) has invoked established contingency plans to maintain delivery of TB surveillance and control activities in GB during the large-scale outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). Substantial numbers of APHA personnel normally working on business as usual TB activities have been redeployed to control the HPAI outbreak.
The number of HPAI infected premises in England has dramatically increased since September 2022 and further diversion of APHA and Veterinary Delivery Partner (VDP) resource is necessary to control the HPAI outbreak. APHA is working hard to minimise disruption to TB control activities and is keeping the situation under continuous review.
APHA recognises that this situation is unsettling for farmers, particularly those whose herds are experiencing a TB breakdown. Please contact APHA if you need advice about your specific circumstances. There are also support organisations that can provide practical help, information and advice on dealing with TB.
Yes. The VDPs are continuing to deliver surveillance and breakdown TB skin testing as normal during the HPAI outbreak. APHA has established contingency plans in place for the specific scenario of reduced veterinary capacity to undertake TB skin testing and will invoke these if necessary.
Official Veterinarians and Approved Tuberculin Testers (ATTs) are continuing to deliver private TB skin testing as normal during the HPAI outbreak. If you are intending to move cattle off your holding that require a pre-movement test, contact your vet practice in good time to make sure that they can accommodate the testing. If the practice that normally carries out your TB testing is unavailable, then another practice with OVs (or ATTs) that hold the relevant official controls qualification for TB testing can undertake private testing.
Before purchasing cattle, check that animals requiring a pre-movement test have been tested with negative results. For farmers in the Low Risk Area of England, please check with your vet practice that they can accommodate statutory post-movement testing of eligible animals within the required window before moving cattle onto your holding. For pre-export testing, please note that ATTs cannot carry out skin testing for export certification purposes, including the testing of animals for export of ova, semen or embryos. If there is a chance that you may be exporting the animal(s) within 60 days of the injection day of a TB test, you must notify the vet practice when the test is booked and an OV will be allocated to complete the test.
You are strongly advised to book your herd’s TB test with your vet practice as soon as you are informed of the testing requirements by APHA. If your vet practice cannot complete your TB test within the window stated they will attempt, through your Delivery Partner, to allocate the test to an alternative vet practice. If you continue to experience difficulties in arranging your test, please contact APHA for advice as soon as an issue is identified.
Some TB tests, particularly for large herds, are routinely completed in several parts. If one or more parts of a test are still outstanding when the testing window closes, the test becomes overdue. If a TB test becomes overdue, whole herd movement restrictions are automatically applied and the herd’s officially TB free status is suspended (OTFS) until the test of all eligible animals has been completed with negative results. Even if part(s) of the test are completed, the whole herd is still subject to movement restrictions, not just the animals yet to be tested. Once the test has been completed at a later date, the next TB test of the herd will usually be scheduled in line with the date by which the test should have been completed, not when it was actually completed. In scenarios where the TB test has been significantly delayed, APHA may alter the date of the next test.
If it’s not possible to complete your herd’s TB test within the window stated in the test notification letter, the test will become overdue. You should contact APHA for advice as soon as possible, preferably before the test becomes overdue. In the event of tests becoming overdue, whole-herd movement restrictions are automatically placed on the holding and the herd’s officially TB free (OTF) status is suspended (OTFS). This is because once a test becomes overdue, the TB status of the herd is unknown and it will be considered a potential risk to other herds. APHA’s overdue TB test procedure has a built-in check point to assess for any exceptional circumstances that prevented the test being completed on time. If the vet practice was the sole reason for your test becoming overdue, no referral to the Rural Payment Agency (RPA) will be made. You must ensure that animal welfare is not compromised whilst your herd is under movement restrictions due to overdue TB testing. There are support organisations that can help with further information and advice.
APHA has invoked established contingency plans to prioritise gamma testing for TB breakdown herds that will benefit most from supplementary blood testing. This means that not all herds that would normally be eligible for mandatory gamma testing will be tested. APHA will notify you of the need for a high priority mandatory gamma test in the usual way (by letter), but please note that some tests may subsequently be delayed or cancelled if animal health officers are not available to take the blood samples for testing. If there is additional resource available, lower priority gamma tests may also be completed. If this is the case, you may not receive a letter from APHA and may instead be contacted by phone to arrange the test. If you have any questions about gamma testing of your herd, please contact APHA to discuss your specific circumstances.
APHA has invoked established contingency plans to prioritise DRFs for TB breakdown farms that require one from an epidemiological or case management perspective. This means that not all farms that would normally receive a DRF will receive one. Where a DRF is carried out, it may be over the telephone instead of a visit to the farm. If your farm is selected for a DRF, an APHA vet will contact you to complete the investigation and answer any questions that you may have. If you do not receive a DRF, you may still be contacted by APHA administrative staff to gather information necessary for case management purposes. If you have any questions about your TB breakdown, please contact APHA to discuss your specific circumstances.
Removal and slaughter of TB reactors is a business-critical activity to minimise the spread of TB. APHA has invoked established contingency plans to protect resource in APHA’s reactor removal team so that this essential service can be maintained. Valuation and reactor removal activities are continuing throughout the HPAI outbreak and remain unaffected. If you have any questions relating to reactor removal, please contact APHA to discuss your specific circumstances. For general information, visit our reactor valuation, slaughter and compensation page.
APHA has invoked established contingency plans to prioritise processing of TB movement licences where they are required to protect animal welfare, maintain business viability (e.g. to fulfil milk contract requirements) and provide essential breeding/female replacements. If you require a movement licence from APHA, please provide as much notice as possible, and in any case at least five working days. Due to the current resourcing pressure in APHA’s TB licensing team, there may be delays in processing licence applications. If you have any questions relating to TB licensing, please contact APHA to discuss your specific circumstances. For general information, visit our TB licensing page.
Spread tracing involves identifying and testing cattle that have moved off a TB breakdown holding that has had TB lesioned and/or PCR or culture positive animals. APHA has temporarily stopped instructing trace tests for animals traced to destination holdings in the High Risk Area and six-monthly surveillance testing parts of the Edge Area. Cattle moved from a TB breakdown herd with lesion and/or PCR or culture positive animals to herds in the Low Risk Area or annual surveillance testing part of the Edge Area will continue to be traced tested as necessary.
Source tracing is the investigation of animals moved into a TB breakdown herd to find the source of infection. As a result of a source trace (also known as back trace), skin testing can be requested in the herd(s) of origin of those animals. APHA will continue to carry out source tracings as normal.
Yes. Any spread tracing tests already instructed for herds in the High Risk Area or six-monthly surveillance testing parts of the Edge Area need to be completed within the required window. Normal overdue testing procedures will apply if the test is not completed on time.
APHA has temporarily stopped identifying and instructing contiguous tests in livestock herds in the vicinity of TB breakdowns with lesion and/or PCR or culture positive animals disclosed in the High Risk Area and six-monthly surveillance testing parts of the Edge Area.
Yes. Any contiguous tests already instructed for herds in the High Risk Area or six-monthly surveillance testing parts of the Edge Area need to be completed within the required window. Normal overdue testing procedures will apply if the test is not completed on time.
APHA has temporarily replaced radial testing of bovine herds within 3km radius of lesion and/or PCR or culture positive TB breakdowns in the annual surveillance testing parts of the Edge Area with contiguous testing.
Radial testing of bovine herds within a 3km radius of lesion and/or PCR or culture positive TB breakdowns in the LRA will continue, although there may be delays in identifying and instructing such tests.
Yes. Any radial tests already instructed in the annual surveillance testing parts of the Edge Area need to be completed within the required window. Normal overdue testing procedures will apply if the test is not completed on time.
A TB breakdown is considered persistent when the herd reaches 18 months under movement restrictions. APHA deploys a range of interventions to help clear these herds of TB, however it has temporarily stopped some of these activities, including supplementary interferon-gamma blood testing. Keepers of persistent breakdown herds will still receive a letter from APHA when their herd has been under movement restrictions for 12 and 18 months, describing the actions they can take and signposting them to sources of information and support.
If your herd is persistently infected, visit the persistent breakdowns page, which includes an action plan that you can complete with your private vet. The TB Advisory Service is also available to provide free, bespoke advice on biosecurity. If APHA has the capacity to carry out interferon-gamma testing of your herd, they may contact you to arrange the test.
APHA has invoked established contingency plans to prioritise routine inspection of approved TB units based on TB risk. Due to the current resourcing pressures, not all approved TB units will receive an annual inspection visit from APHA.
APHA has invoked established contingency plans to manage new approvals of TB units such as Approved Finishing Units (AFU), Licensed Finishing Units (LFU) and TB Isolation Units (TBIU). Although APHA is working hard to process all applications, if you are applying for a new approval or re-approval, please be aware that you may experience delays. If you have any questions relating to approved TB units, please contact APHA to discuss your specific circumstances. For general information about approved TB units, visit our pages on AFUs, LFUs and TBIUs.