WITH cases of Bovine Tuberculosis (TB) confirmed on two North Tyne farms last week, a local vet has shared advice on how farmers can take mitigate the risk of infection during this time.

“Northumberland might be classed as a low TB area, but to prevent any further outbreaks, farmers need to remain vigilant on their biosecurity so that we can nip it in the bud as soon as possible,” said Lee-Anne Oliver, veterinary surgeon and partner at Scott Mitchell Vets Associates.

“One key thing to remember is that there is no sign of TB in any of our wildlife such as badgers, and this means that the focus should be on preventing the disease from further spreading from cattle to cattle – in particular livestock which has been brought into our herds from other higher-risk parts of the country.

“Farmers need to be asking anyone who they are trading or purchasing cattle from the right questions in order to protect themselves.”

These questions included: When was the herd’s last TB test? How frequently are tests carried out? And how long has the herd been Officially Tuberculosis Free (OTF).

Lee-Anne also said that in order to remain on top of the disease, it should be treated no differently to any other livestock illness.

“We have to treat TB testing as no different or anymore shameful than we would regular cattle blood tests,” she said. “And remember that tests can be carried out at any time throughout the year. It isn’t restricted to post-movement of new cattle entering the farm.

“The news of TB in Northumberland is undoubtedly a shock for both our farmers and vets, when for a long time we have considered ourselves as free of the disease. I also sympathise with the pressures farmer face undergoing these tests and restrictions in the middle of summer, but it is an essential move towards eradication.”

Defra confirmed last week that it had implemented radial zones in Northumberland for the first time since the UK’s TB Eradication Strategy made it part of testing protocol in 2013.