TB in non-bovine species

TB in non-bovine species

Bovine TB is a chronic, infectious and primarily respiratory disease caused by the slow-growing bacterium Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis). It is mainly a disease of cattle and other bovines, but can affect a wide range of mammal species, including other farmed and domestic animals.


What to do if TB is suspected in non-bovine animals

You must immediately notify the Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA) if you or your vet suspect that a carcase of a non-bovine animal is infected with TB. Suspicion of TB in live deer is also notifiable.

If TB is confirmed or strongly suspected, movement restrictions are applied and will remain in place until APHA is satisfied, through testing, that all TB infected animals have been identified and removed. Additionally, APHA will TB test any cattle present on the holding and neighbouring premises.

TB testing in non-bovines

Tuberculin skin test

The comparative tuberculin skin test is also used in pigs, South American camelids, goats, sheep and deer.

As in cattle, the skin test is the internationally accepted test for M. bovis in live animals, although its performance characteristics in non-bovine species are not as well known.

Interferom gamma - Bovine TB

Interferon-gamma blood test

The interferon-gamma test has been evaluated in alpacas under UK conditions.

The test is resource-intensive particularly with regard to sample handling and has now been superseded by antibody tests.

Alpacas - TB Hub

Antibody Tests

Antibody tests validated under UK conditions are available for statutory testing of South American camelids (see references below).

A voluntary private health scheme is also available. There are no antibody tests validated under UK conditions currently available for pigs, sheep, deer or goats.

Scientific papers for tests in South American Camelids:

Farmed animals kept as pets

Farmed animal species kept as pets most often include goats, camelids, pygmy pigs and lambs. In the event any of these animals become infected with M.bovis, they are treated as livestock and the particular method of disease management applied will depend on the species involved. Horses are regarded as highly resistant to to mycobacterial infections and reports of infection with M. bovis are very rare.

Pigs and piglets in a pen - TB Hub

Useful resources

Much of the information on biosecurity is applicable to non-bovine species.

  • Statistics on TB in non-bovine species on GOV.UK
  • Information on how to deal with TB in non-bovine animals is available on GOV.UK
  • Guidance about bovine TB in domestic pets on GOV.UK
  • Factsheet on TB in other livestock (February 2019)
  • APHA information sheet on reporting suspicion of TB in a wild deer carcase
  • The TB Hub's Biosecurity information aimed at bovine species is also relevant to non-bovine species