Continued Surveillance and Investments in Bovine TB Research Critical

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Farmscape for August 14, 2023

Full Interview 7:07 Listen

A research scientist with the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization cautions a Bovine TB outbreak in Canada’s cattle herd would be a disaster for the Canadian economy. Bovine tuberculosis is a contagious bacterial infection that affects livestock, wildlife species and can spread to humans. Over the past five to six years VIDO has been engaged in the development and testing of TB vaccine candidates for use in humans and livestock and expects to be ready to begin field trials of new bovine TB vaccines within the next couple of years. Dr. Jeffrey Chen, a research scientist with the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization, says a TB outbreak in Canadian cattle could be disastrous.

Quote-Dr. Jeffrey Chen-Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization:
Canada officially has a TB free status in that the occurrence of bovine TB in Canadian cattle herds is extremely rare.
At the moment bovine TB in Canada is reportable. If there is even a suspicion of bovine TB it is reportable to the CFIA, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency who then put in place mitigation strategies which would include quarantining, trace contacting, diagnosis and what is called a test and cull program, which means all animals from a suspect herd are tested and then if there are any positively detected cases, these are humanely disposed of and the facilities housing  these animals is essentially made to undergo a deep cleaning and the CFIA follows up until all cases and all traces of the disease are no longer apparent. If Canada were to be adversely affected by bovine TB it would effectively shut down its cattle industry and this would cost millions if not hundreds of millions of dollars in economic loss to the Canadian economy.

Dr. Chen says even though Canada has a bovine TB free status, the infection still affects many other jurisdictions so ongoing surveillance and investments in TB research are critical.

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