Bovine tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease which mainly affects cattle. It can infect many other species of mammals, though only a handful (including badgers in parts of Great Britain) can actively spread the disease.
The scale of infection and the cost make bovine TB one of the biggest challenges that the cattle farming industry faces, particularly in the west and south west of England. Elsewhere in England the infection in cattle has been virtually eliminated, although sporadic cases occur, usually linked to movements of cattle from areas where the disease is more widespread.
The risk to public health is very low these days. This is largely due to milk pasteurisation and to the early identification of cattle with TB on farms and at abattoirs.
Nevertheless, we need to eradicate bovine TB, to support the food and farming industries and to reduce the costs to both farmers and taxpayers.
- reducing bovine TB through controls on cattle, including testing cattle herds for bovine TB, and controlling TB in herds when it is detected
- controlling the disease in badgers
- improving biosecurity and husbandry on farms
- developing TB vaccines for cattle
- vaccinating badgers against TB
- helping other industry sectors to deal with TB in non-bovine species
- our comprehensive bovine TB research programme
We published our strategy for achieving ‘Officially Bovine Tuberculosis-Free’ Status for England on 3 April 2014, following extensive consultation.
We publish monthly ‘Bovine TB statistics’.
Bovine TB annual surveillance reports are published by AHVLA.
Who we’re working with
The Bovine TB Eradication Advisory Group for England (TBEAG) is an expert sub-group of the Animal Health and Welfare Board for England (AHWBE) which advises Defra on developing and implementing bovine TB policy. AHWBE has overall responsibility for advising ministers on England’s TB strategy.
Bills and legislation
Responsibilities for bovine TB are fully devolved to administrations in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The main EU regulation on bovine TB is Council Directive 64/432/EEC, which deals with animal health problems affecting trade inside the EU in bovine animals and swine.
Our own legislation which contains the rules about the control of bovine TB in England includes the following:
- The Tuberculosis (England) Order 2014
- The Cattle Compensation (England) Order 2012
- The Individual Ascertainment of Value (England) Order 2012
- The Tuberculosis (Deer and Camelid) (England) Order 2014
- The Tuberculosis (Deer and Camelid) Slaughter and Compensation (England) Order 2014
Badgers and their setts are protected under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992.