Scotland retains TB-free status despite recent outbreak

Scotland has retained its official tuberculosis (TB) free (OTF) status, despite a recent outbreak in a herd of cattle on the Isle of Skye.

The country has held the status for nearly eight years, achieving it in September 2009, according to the Scottish Department of Agriculture.

Last week a number of cattle were reportedly destroyed when the disease was detected.

Despite the outbreak, Scotland has been allowed to retain its OTF status. Every year there is a small number of cattle detected with TB.

However, the country is allowed to retain this status as long as less than 0.1% of herds are affected by the disease for at least six consecutive years.

A risk-based TB testing policy was introduced in Scotland at the beginning of 2012. Under this policy, “low risk” herds became exempt from routine herd testing over the course of four years.

The first 4-year testing cycle was completed on December 31, 2015, and a subsequent review of the scheme criteria showed that there was scope to safely increase the number of herds eligible for exemption, without adversely affecting the ability to detect infected herds, the department added.

As a result of this review, the “low risk” selection criteria was scheduled to change – with effect from the beginning of this year.

All herds across Scotland are reassessed annually by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA); the agency is also responsible for notifying cattle keepers in Scotland whether or not their herd is exempt from routine TB testing.

The letters to inform Scottish cattle keepers of their testing requirements for 2017 were issued by the APHA in August of last year.