A test has been developed by researchers in Surrey that could put an end to the culling of badgers.
The “diva” test – meaning differentiation of infected from vaccinated animals – will allow vaccinated healthy cattle to be easily spotted from vaccinated cattle that have bovine tuberculosis (TB).
Currently, vaccinating cattle against TB is banned in Europe, because there is no way of distinguishing between an animal that has simply been vaccinated, and an animal that has actually contracted the disease.
The report appeared in yesterday’s Independent, saying: “TB vaccination of cattle has been prohibited across the EU since 1978. However, researchers led by Professor Glyn Hewinson, of Animal Health and the Veterinary Laboratories Agency in Weybridge, Surrey, have developed a so-called ‘diva’ test.
“Such a test, if used in conjunction with a new cattle TB vaccine being developed simultaneously, would enable the Government to ask the EU for the law to be changed, so cattle could indeed be immunised against a disease which is rapidly spreading in parts of Britain, and has precipitated the highly controversial badger cull that is about to start.
“However, both the vaccine and the test have to be validated by regulatory agencies, a long and complex process which ‘may take years’, according to the Government’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Nigel Gibbens.”