Researchers claim new blood test for bovine tuberculosis developed

A new blood test to detect Mycobacteria in blood has been developed by a team at the University of Nottingham led by Dr Cath Rees, an expert in microbiology in the School of Biosciences, and Dr Ben Swift from the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science.

The researchers have used this new method to show that cattle diagnosed with bovine tuberculosis (bTB) have detectable levels in their blood of the bacterium Mycobacterium bovis (M bovis), which causes bTB.

So far, routine testing for bovine TB uses the Single Intradermal Comparative Cervical Tuberculin (SICCT) skin test. However, it is known that this test is only 90% sensitive at best, and misses many infected animals.

Early results for the new blood test indicate that M bovis can be detected before the animal becomes SCCIT-positive.

By devising a simple and inexpensive 2ml blood test which detects very low levels of mycobacteria in blood, delivering a test result in just six hours, the researchers may enable earlier bTB infection, which could help to control outbreaks faster.

The method will work using blood samples from any animal species.

They have detected mycobacteria in the blood of cattle, sheep and horses, but it could also be used for deer, goats or llamas.

“Not only that, we can detect any type of mycobacteria, we have used the same method to detect other diseases, such as Johne’s disease, not just bTB,” said Dr Rees.


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