Title: Environmental sources of TB and paratuberculosis in the agricultural environment on farms with long term cases of the diseases
Bovine TB is a zoonotic notifiable disease cause by the Mycobacterium bovis (M.bovis) bacteria. In 2018, 11,234 cows were culled in Wales across 683 herds, which represents a national frequency of 5.7%. TB is arguably the biggest threat to animal health in Wales, as well as causing stress for the individuals affected by it. The epidemiology of TB is complex, with inconsistencies in skin tests, extensive movement of stock and the role of wildlife all examples of occasions when it is difficult to control the disease. One aspect where a gap in research appears is the role played by the environment in terms of spreading the bacteria i.e. can M.bovis be found in water troughs, bedding, muck etc, which could then infect animals?
Samples of organic matter will be collected from farms affected by TB, and then analysed using microbiology techniques to identify M.bovis DNA. A questionnaire will be distributed to livestock farmers across the UK which will enable us to compare the actions and opinions of farmers from different backgrounds on how they control environmental pathogens.
The aim is for the results can be used by Welsh Government to strengthen their TB control policies, as well as to offer practical recommendations to farmers in order to reduce the likelihood of TB cases on their farms.
Start Date: October 2018