TB in non-bovine species

Nearly all warm-blooded animals are susceptible to the infection including farmed animals eg pigs, sheep, goats and camelids; wildlife eg badgers and deer; pets including cats and dogs; and humans.

Action taken if TB is suspected in non-bovine farmed animals

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

Update: camelids and other non-bovine species

On 21 October 2013 the Animal Health and Welfare Board for England submitted its recommendation to ministers on a 3 stage process for reinforcing the current disease control regime for camelids and other non-bovine species.

Pigs and wild boar

The oral route is considered the most significant way in which pigs become infected, most frequently by ingesting milk or milk products from infected cows (domesticated pigs) or scavenging carcasses of tuberculous animals (feral pigs). There is no active surveillance for TB in pigs; cases will tend to be identified at post-slaughter inspection.

The feral wild boar population in England is relatively small and localised and so is not currently considered a major disease threat to cattle.

South American camelids (llamas, alpacas, vicunas, guanacos)

Although reports of infection in their natural habitat in South America are few, cases of TB have been diagnosed in llamas and alpacas in Great Britain.

If an owner suspects their animal may be infected with TB, they should firstly contact their private Veterinary Surgeon. Additionally, owners are encouraged to have a post-mortem examination of any camelid which dies or shows signs which are suspicious of tuberculosis. Although no skin test will ever be perfect, the availability of accurate and cost-effective ante mortem tests is important in facilitating effective surveillance arrangements and supporting the elimination of TB in affected herds.

Camelid herds will be TB tested at the government’s expense if infection with M. bovis is confirmed (within the herd) by bacteriological culture or if M. bovis has been confirmed in a co-located cattle herd. Camelid owners must agree to the removal of any positive reactors before testing can proceed. Because of the limitations of the skin test, two blood tests are offered as ancillary tests on a voluntary basis to owners of camelids that have shown a negative result to the skin test in herds affected by a culture-confirmed TB breakdown.

Sheep and Goats

Both sheep and goats are susceptible to TB. There is a risk of transmission to humans if unpasteurised milk or dairy products made from unpasteurised milk from TB infected nannies are consumed. There is no active surveillance for TB in sheep or goats; cases will tend to be identified at post slaughter inspection.

Sheep and goats will be TB tested, at Defra’s expense, if located on premises where TB has been confirmed in cattle (subject to findings of a veterinary risk assessment), or if M. bovis infection has been confirmed in the goat herd itself. Where an owner wishes to tuberculin test their sheep and/or goats in the absence of confirmed M. bovis infection on the premises or in the immediate vicinity, testing may be undertaken privately by the owner’s veterinary surgeon at the owner’s expense. Such testing must, however, be agreed and approved by AHVLA.

Farmed deer

Farmed deer are any deer that are kept for business purposes. Legislation requires farmed deer to be identified if they are to be tested for TB or leave the farm of origin. The identification tag must show both the Defra or the British Deer Farms and Parks Association (BDFPA) herd registration number and the animal’s own unique number. The BDFPA website contains detailed information on their herd registration system.

Bovine TB in deer is a notifiable disease. Under the Tuberculosis (Deer) Order 1989 (as amended), suspicion of TB in any deer (or deer carcass), must be notified to the local AHVLA Office. The skin test is used, at the owner’s expense, to TB test deer. The test may only be carried out with prior authorisation from (and by Official Veterinarians appointed by) AHVLA. There is no routine statutory TB testing programme for deer herds in GB. However, AHVLA may require the testing of deer, at the owner’s expense, in order to check for the presence of TB.  Compensation for deer is subject to State Aid provisions – Bovine Turberculosis Compensation Payments to Deer owners in England Scheme 2012 (PDF)

For more information please see:

Cats and Dogs

TB incidence is low in cats and dogs. Because bovine TB is a zoonotic disease (ie it can be spread from animal to human), where TB in pets is disclosed, AHVLA or private vets will inform the Local Health Authority so that any risks to human contacts can be investigated.

Treatment of TB infected pets is not recommended because of the risk this presents of transmitting the disease to other animals and/or the pet’s owners.

AHVLA will undertake a pathological examination and bacteriological culture from the animal – the costs of this will be met by Defra. If notification of a positive culture comes from a private or Public Health Laboratory Service laboratory, they are encouraged to submit samples to AHVLA.

If TB is reported in a farm cat or dog, AHVLA will instigate TB testing of any cattle on the farm and other, potentially exposed cattle, on neighbouring premises.

TB in other species statistics

Page last modified: 5 March 2014