Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is an infectious disease of cattle and one of the biggest challenges facing the cattle farming industry today, particularly in the west and south west of England. It is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis), which can also infect and cause TB in badgers, deer, goats, pigs, camelids (llamas and alcapas), dogs and cats, as well as many other mammals, incuding man.

Scotland has been free for some years and testing the cattle herd has reduced as a result, although imported cattle into Scotland still undergo rigorous testing.

Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is the disease in cattle that results from infection with M. bovis bacteria, and is one of the most complex animal health problems currently facing the farming industry in Great Britain. It is a notifiable disease and suspicion of the disease must be reported to your local Animal Health office.

Further information on M. bovis can be found on the Defra’s website.

Bovine TB is a chronic disease and it can take years to develop. M. bovis grows very slowly and only replicates every 12-20 hours. The lymph nodes in the animal’s head usually show infection first and as the disease progresses lesions will begin to develop on the surface of the lungs and chest cavity.

Due to the slow progression of infection, and the Government’s compulsory testing and slaughter programme clinical signs of bTB, such as weakness, coughing and loss of weight, are now rarely seen in cattle in GB. Most cattle herds are tested for bTB at least every four years which identifies most infected cattle before clinical signs of disease become apparent. This is much more frequent in areas where reactors are seen.

Look at to see tips to reduce infection and protect you and your livestock.