Saturday, 22 May 2010

Update - You Have TB in your herd - WHATS NEXT

As soon as you suffer your first loss to TB – your entire herd is at risk and there are immediate measures you can take to reduce the risk of spread amongst your own herd/neighbouring livestock. Having lost one there is a strong chance another of this group or your entire herd is infected. There is lots of information available from DEFRA on their website regarding protecting your herd from wildlife and I urge you to follow that advice - but the following is additional information and is camelid specific. Cattle do not tend to spit nor do they tend to carry open lesions whilst outwardly showing no symptoms- camelids, however, are a totally different story.


1. Consider the group from which you suffered your first loss as potentially infected.

2. Do not move any of this group out nor move any of your other groups in with this group. Discontinue mating with your own stud males until you are out of restriction.

3. Ensure no nose to nose contact /spitting distance between your other groups/neighbouring livestock. If you cannot move this group to an isolation field you must install perimeter fencing/secondary fencing including gateways with at least a 10 foot gap. If you have a foot path running through your property install secondary fencing so no human contact is possible.

4. Foot dips must be used when entering and leaving your farm and paddocks. DEFRA Recommend FAM 30 along with others (which kills TB) available from most farming suppliers – not only as a foot dip but for disinfecting stables- equipment etc.

5. Use separate cleaning equipment for this field - never use it on other fields unless it has been disinfected. If you use a poo hoover scrub wheels down before entering other fields. Same applies to any tractors etc that have been in this field.

6. Clean water troughs daily make sure troughs are a minimum 3 feet off the ground or in reach of cria.

7. Use as many hay racks a possible to eliminate any fighting/spitting over hay.

8. No hand feeding. You will pass potentially infected saliva from one to the other let alone yourself.

9. Wear protective clothing and remove before handling any of your other groups.

10. Wear disposable gloves – protective clothing - face masks - when handling this group esp. if handling the face/mouth area. Remember this is a zoonosis – can pass to humans so therefore keep children away and minimise the contact. Cease holding any hands on courses if you are under restriction. Follow HSA and HPA guidelines.

11. Try to feed in individual buckets and do not let them go from bucket to bucket. If you cannot do this due to the size of the group allow plenty of feeding troughs and clean out after feeding and tip upside down.

12. Monitor your herd daily and often closely. If any of this group or your other groups show any signs/symptoms – REMOVE THEM from this group immediately along with a mate for company and seek vet advice. Do not return this animal to the group until you are certain this animal does not have TB or has recovered from illness. Often they show very subtle signs – get to know your herd. Monitor weight – breathing – feeding habits – lethargy – coughing – stiffness in getting up and cushing down – overall demeanour or any change in their normal behaviour.

13. Notify people if you have sold any of your herd to them or have had matings etc as AH/DEFRA may be in contact with them.

14. AH/DEFRA will visit you and ask for all your movement records so have them ready for your visit. They will discuss the procedures with you. Ask them for a copy of the current policy and procedures..

15. Also HPA (Health Protection Agency) will contact you to discuss the risks to you and your family/staff and they may arrange X Rays BCGs Skin test on those in contact with your herd if they feel it necessary.

16. Your first skin test will be carried out either straightaway or 90 days after your first loss. If TB was evident on PM it is strongly advisable that you request your first skin test is carried out as soon as possible rather than wait 90 days. Better to remove reactors as soon as possible. A lot can happen in 90 days. I am not aware of a single false positive on the skin test – however there are many false negatives.

17. You will need a small pen approx 4feet wide by 5 feet deep or a crush – if you make a crush – ensure there is space for the AH vet to be able to get to the armpit. If you can handle your animals the procedure is not too stressful on your herd and you can simply halter the animal and hold as you do when you carryout injections but if you can’t then you will need a crush for not only your own safety but that of your animals. You can ask your vet to sedate any you feel will be too difficult but you will have to pay for that. There are many homeopathy treatments that are very useful i.e. AAA/Valerian for stress – useful for not only your herd but for you.

18. Any reactors – you must isolate as it may take up to 10 days before AH can arrange for removal. Also those that fall into the “watch” category must also be isolated. “Watch” is simply those that have had a reaction but not met the current 2mm measurement for a positive or have had a severe side effect following the skin. You will be offered either euthanasia by injection or captive bolt. This will be carried out on farm.

19. The animal/s will be removed afterwards and taken to the VLA for PM also paid for by DEFRA.

20. If you do not cull your positives you will not be allowed to undergo any further testing – or receive compensation and will therefore be under restriction until that animal either dies or you cull.

21. Once you have culled your reactor/s or if you suffer any further losses in your herd the 90 day process begins all over again – so you have a test 90 days after your loss and then another test 90 days after that providing no further losses have occurred.

22. You may be offered alternative under trial blood tests – consider these carefully before agreeing as you will be required to cull ALL positives. Blood tests do pick out infected animals which the skin test is missing.

23. If your entire herd test negative – do not think your herd are in the clear. Negative skin test does not mean your animals do not have TB. Continue to monitor as above. Do not use the skin test as a marketing tool. A negative skin test does not mean your animal is Tb free

24. Tell your shearer or anyone who needs to handle your herd that you are under restriction. You are putting their health at risk if you fail to do so and ramifications of such actions should you not be honest may be severe. .

25. If/when you become clear and restrictions are removed it is highly recommended you do not sell/show/ move your herd anywhere for a minimum of 12 months, due to the inaccuracy of the skin test and the risk of infecting other herds/livestock especially if you have refused blood tests.. Continue to use all the previous bio security measures throughout the quarantine period.

26. Finally – DO NOT go through this on your own – contact Dianne Summers who not only has firsthand experience of TB in her own herd but also heads the Camelid TB Support group where fellow TB sufferers are in touch with each other and can share advice, symptoms and data and someone is always at the end of the phone 24 hours a day 7 days a week. The support is also emotional support which you may also need. Contact Dianne on 01209 822422 07949511316 or All data you provide will be treated strictly private and confidential and will not even be passed on to the other members of the TB support group unless you are happy to do so. The Support Group works closely with DEFRA and AH and if problems arise we can help.

See files attached
Defra TB in Camelids leaflet
Defra Approved Disinfectants
Possible Signs and symptoms of TB in your herd
HSE Advice
HPA Advice
PM Film Throat Lesions
Updated 22.05.2010


  1. An article in the NFU Countryside magazine states "there is now the option of a blood test for TB in camelids - and that is much more reliable".
    How reliable is this, in terms of false results (positive or negative), and how do I go about getting my whole herd checked ?

  2. Dianne Summers25 May 2010 at 06:04

    At the moment the blood tests are only available if you are under restriction due to a Tb breakdown in your herd and only following the skin test. Hopefully if/once we validate the gamma interferon which is proving very successful on breakdowns - this will hopefully and eventually be made avialable as a test for screening your herd. Read the post named Gamma Interferon Validation.