The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has announced that it will move forward with recommendations on inconclusive TB tests.

The recommendations comes from the TB Eradication Strategy. The department said it decided to move ahead with putting the recommendations into practice following a meeting of the Implementation Working Group of the TB Stakeholders Forum.

The department noted that there was scientific research which shows that cattle which return inconclusive skin tests are “at an increased risk of becoming reactors at a later date, even after testing negative after a retest”.

“While not all all inconclusive animals progress to being reactors, they do so at such frequency that it is important in the context of protecting individual herds and for the success of the programme to intervene to reduce this risk.”

There are several specific actions to be carried out in relation to inconclusives which the department has laid out.

These include extending the period of time between the first inconclusive skin test and the retest. This, the department said, will increase the possibility of catching infected animals at the retest.

The department also plans to carry out blood tests on all inconclusive animals within 30 days of the first inconclusive skin test.

As well as that, blood tests will be carried out every six months on inconclusive animals that pass a skin retest and a first blood test.

If these animals ever test inconclusive again at a future test, they will be removed as reactors.

Where a herd has a TB breakdown and it already has some historical old inconclusive animals, these will be removed as reactors with full compensation.

The remaining actions to be carried out are summarised below:

  • If four or more new inconclusive reactors are disclosed at a test, without any other reactors, they will be made reactor and removed with full compensation;
  • In cases where you have one or more reactors on a test, other inconclusive reactors on the test will be made reactor and removed from the herd with full compensation;
  • Under new EU rules any herd with an inconclusive reactor will be restricted and will remain restricted until the inconclusive animal retests clear or is slaughtered. It will still be possible to move animals directly for slaughter.