‘New 48-hour TB blood test not accurate enough for use on Irish farms’

Research carried out in the University of Nottingham has developed a new an inexpensive method of detecting TB in cattle, which it says is taking the scientific community by surprise.

However, one of the country’s top vets, Professor Eamon Gormley from the School of Veterinary Medicine in UCD said that the test is not reliable enough for use on a commercial basis just yet.

The researchers have used the new method to show that cattle diagnosed with TB have detectable levels of the bacterium Mycobacterium bovis – which causes TB – in their blood.

“Using just a 2ml blood sample, viable Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTC) bacteria were detected in 66% of samples from skin test positive animals,” Dr Cath Rees head of the research team said.

Rees said the test delivers results within 48 hours.

However, Eamon Gormley of UCD said that the test was carried out on a group of animals already testing positive for TB using the skin test.

He added that the 66% result is not accurate enough, as the current method of detecting TB in Ireland – the skin test is a lot more accurate.

The skin test is 99.5% accurate, this means that it is only wrong in one in 10,000 cases.

Gormley said that the one of the major stumbling blocks facing the new test will be its ability to identify TB cases on farm and not just inside the research centre.

And he added before it could be used on a commercial basis in Ireland it would need to under go an intensive research trial on commercial animals.

However, Rees also said that it is hoped that the new method of detecting TB can also be used for the identification of other diseases in the future, particularly Johne’s Disease.