What is Bovine TB?

Cases of Bovine TB has been linked back to a farm in Cumbria Photo: PA

It has been confirmed by The Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) that a number of TB cases found in cattle across Great Britain are linked to a Cumbrian farm.

The dairy cows are all thought to have come from a herd in Cumbria that were sold off at the end of February.

The Cumbria herd has been placed under movement restrictions and TB testing of farms within a three kilometre radius is underway.

What is Bovine TB?

Bovine tuberculosis (TB) is an infection which affects cattle which is caused by the bacteria, Mycobacterium bovis .

This particular strain of the disease can also infect other animals like badgers, deer, goats, dogs and cats.

It is also a zoonotic disease. That means it can be transmitted from infected animals to people where it causes a condition very similar to human TB.

The risk of people contracting bovine TB from cattle in Great Britain is currently considered very low.

Other animals, like dogs, can also contract the disease Credit: PA

What are the signs of Bovine TB?

Signs of TB in cattle include:

  • weakness
  • coughing
  • weight loss

These signs are now rarely seen in British cattle because of the slow progression of infection.

There is still some uncertainty surrounding how bovine TB is transmitted.

It is mainly a respiratory disease, caught by breathing in the M. bovis bacteria that cause TB.

This usually happens when animals are in close contact with another that is infected and, like with human diseases, spreads through coughing and sneezing.

Direct transmission can happen through nose to nose contact but there is also evidence that indirect transmission is possible, e.g. through contact with saliva, urine, droppings,etc.

The disease is spread through coughing, sneezing and close contact with infected animals Credit: PA

Can people contract Bovine TB?

Bovine TB is a zoonosis which means that it is an infection that can be transmitted from affected animals to people.

If this happens it causes a condition very similar to human TB.

Currently less than 1% of all confirmed cases of TB in humans are due to infection with bovine TB.

For more information on Bovine TB you can visit the Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs website.