New Factsheet: Using Cattle as TB Sentinels

Date 15 May 2018

TB tests for dairy and beef cattle produce valuable intelligence for the work of eradicating bovine TB.

Apart from indicating whether TB infection is apparent in a cattle herd, the test is also used by epidemiologists to indicate whether any TB exists in local wildlife.

Cattle can act as disease ‘sentinels’. Herd testing cattle for TB and slaughterhouse inspection of carcasses are cost-effective methods of detecting the probability of TB infection in wildlife.

Surveys of wildlife are expensive and complex with many variables – population size, seasonal changes, weather, and large home ranges. However, testing livestock is relatively straightforward: cattle are easily mustered, and are susceptible to contracting TB from infected possums.

So where TB persists in possums, one or more livestock animals will eventually become infected and this will be detected via TB diagnostic testing. In this way, information from the national TB livestock screening programme provides a complement to other forms of wildlife TB surveillance for detecting TB in possums.

Read the full story in a new factsheet produced by OSPRI and research partner Landcare Research/Manaaki Whenua.

TB tester

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