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Official Vet: news and briefings

Ground-breaking bovine TB vaccine field trials get green light

03 September 2020, at 8:00am

World-leading bovine tuberculosis (bTB) cattle vaccination trials are set to get underway in England and Wales as a result of a major breakthrough by government scientists.

These trials enable work to accelerate towards planned deployment of a cattle vaccine by 2025, in the latest milestone to eradicate this highly damaging animal disease.

bTB is one of the most difficult and intractable animal health challenges that England and Wales face today. More than 40,000 cattle are slaughtered each year due to infection from bTB. However, a cattle vaccine could become a powerful tool in the battle against the disease following the necessary testing and subsequent approvals to ensure its safety and efficacy.

It is one of several key elements of the long-term bTB strategy to eradicate the disease in England by 2038. Measures include plans to phase out intensive badger culling in England, improve the cattle testing regime, vaccinate more badgers against the disease and improve testing to intercept bTB earlier.

The field trials will be conducted over the next four years on behalf of Defra, the Welsh government and the Scottish government, following 20 years of ground-breaking research into bovine TB vaccines and diagnostic tests.

OV briefings

An update on the rollout of Approved Tuberculin Testers (ATTs) into private veterinary businesses to carry out tuberculin skin testing in England

17 AUGUST 2020

On 18 March 2020 APHA issued Briefing Note 05/20 to inform OVs of the outcome of the pilot to explore the use of Approved Tuberculin Testers (ATTs) in private veterinary businesses to carry out tuberculin skin testing of cattle in England. OVs were informed that the pilot had been successful and that rollout would commence from late 2020, subject to certain conditions being applied. In order to meet these conditions and ensure a smooth transition for all, APHA is implementing new processes and several updates prior to rollout on 2 November 2020.

From 2 November 2020, Approved Tuberculin Testers (ATTs) will be rolled out into private veterinary businesses in England. From this date candidates will be able to register and enrol onto the Official Controls Qualification (Animal Health Paraprofessional) – Approved Tuberculin Tester (OCQ(AHP) – ATT) training on the Improve International Limited AHP website. Veterinary businesses may recruit potential ATTs in advance of the rollout date but no training may commence prior to 2 November 2020.

All veterinary businesses in England will have the opportunity to employ ATTs subject to meeting the requirements. ATTs will only be permitted to carry out testing in England and not in Wales or Scotland. They will be permitted to carry out all skin test types with the exception of tests required for export purposes (including for export of germplasm). No test carried out by an ATT will be acceptable for export certification purposes.

Certifying OVs and practices should take special note of this and advise their clients accordingly. Subcontracted or “locum” ATTs will be permitted, but all ATTs must work within a veterinary-led team and meet the strict veterinary supervision requirements.

Although ATTs can conduct skin tests, responsibility for interpretation of their test results rests with their AVS or deputy (or in exceptional circumstances only by another OV holding the OCQ(V) – TT) who will sign off and submit the tests to APHA. The test submission deadlines are the same as those for OVs.

APHA will monitor all ATT tests submitted to ensure that the signatories are correct. ATTs are responsible for ensuring that the AVS and deputy details on their training record are correct at all times. Authorisation will be suspended or expired in the event that the AVS and deputy requirement is not fully met.

Full instructions and eligibility criteria for ATTs are detailed in the full briefing note.

Update on the retender of the APHA contract for the provision of veterinary and paraprofessional training, authorisation and assurance services

18 AUGUST 2020

Training and authorisation for OVs and AHPs is delivered via the contract currently held by Improve International Limited. Following the retender earlier this year, Improve International have been awarded the new contract, which will run for a minimum of five years.

A transition period is now in place, during which Improve International will work closely with APHA to ensure that all the new requirements are implemented and that the transition from one contract to the next is smooth, having minimal impact on OVs and AHPs. The transition period is due to end on 2 November 2020, when the new contract will commence. Any OVs already enrolled on a training course before 2 November will be able to complete the training without interruption.

There are several differences from the current contract and the major changes that will be noticed by OVs and AHPs are detailed in the full briefing note.

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