Tuberculosis (TB)

Date: 01/05/14

Tuberculosis (TB)

Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease of cattle and one of the biggest challenges facing the cattle farming industry today, with the number of cattle compulsory slaughtered as reactors or direct contacts reaching 30,220 from January to November 2013.

TB is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis) and is caught by animals or humans (as this is a zoonotic disease) breathing in this bacteria. This normally happens through animals coughing and sneezing, when they are in too close contact with each other. Therefore, stocking density is a major factor in the transmission. The transmission of TB can also be through direct contact from animal to animal, for example nose to nose contact. In addition, M. bovis bacteria can be transmitted indirectly through contact with saliva, urine, droppings, pus from abscesses etc. Using these methods, the bacteria are normally passed between cattle, badgers to cattle (or vice versa) and badger to badger.

With these transmission methods in mind, it is up to the Government, public and farmers alike to generate and implement methods to help reduce the spread of M. bovis bacteria. One of the ways the Government has done this, is through the compulsory testing and slaughter of any reactor animals every four years. This identifies the cattle with the bacteria before the disease is apparent. As well as this, there are many husbandry methods farmers can adopt. For example, well ventilated sheds, correct stocking density and the isolation of bought in stock. However, perhaps the most important method for farms in the prevention of TB is on farm bio-security.

Bio-security simply means the prevention of disease causing agents, in this instance M. bovis bacteria, entering or leaving any place where animals are present or have recently been, therefore, helping prevent the spread of disease. There are many factors which effect bio-security on farm, for example, transport machinery, other animals, people, farm machinery, vermin and the cleanliness of livestock housing.

To ensure livestock housing is hygienically clean, a cleaning process needs to be thought through and must consist of the correct temperature, chemical/mechanical energy, time and concentration dilution. The sequence normally includes mucking out, rinsing with water, using a foam detergent (Ecofoam Advanced), rinsing again and then applying a disinfectant. It is very important to get this stage correct as the bacteria may still be present if not. Common mistakes in this process include: poor mucking out, chemical concentration being too low and contact time being too short for the foam. The foam can also be applied too thickly or with the wrong lance. If the shed is mucky repeating the foaming process after rinsing maybe beneficial.

Virophor 2.8% is approved by DEFRA as a disinfectant for use in the control of TB and appears on the list of approved disinfectants. It is a stabilised, low stain, iodophor disinfectant for use on surfaces. For example, if using Virophor 2.8% in a shed make sure all the animals are removed, rinse the walls, foam clean and final rinse to remove any other muck. Remove any excess standing water left on floors etc. Apply Virophor 2.8% using a disinfection lance/knapsack sprayer at a dilution rate of 300ml/m2. Allow area to dry. Another batch of animals can now be brought into the shed.

Virophor 2.8% has a full set of approvals including pig and poultry diseases and can also be used in routine bio-security. It is extremely effective in footbaths at a dilution rate of 1:185.

In conclusion, TB is one of the major concerns to cattle farmers in the UK. It is a bacteria that can be spread both directly and indirectly. Introducing strict bio-security controls onto farm and using approved disinfectants like Virophor 2.8% will help control outbreaks of the disease.

Virophor 2.8% - a key weapon in the fight against TB

Virophor 2.8% DEFRA approved as being effective against Tuberculosis.

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