Publication - Advice and guidance

Bovine TB

Published: 29 Oct 2018
Last updated: 3 Aug 2021 - see all updates

Advice on what to do if you suspect there is an outbreak of this infectious disease.

Bovine TB
Bovine tuberculosis

Introduction

Bovine tuberculosis (TB) is a devastating disease of cattle and a major challenge facing large parts of the UK cattle farming industry today.

Although the disease is controlled in most developed countries, the complete eradication of TB worldwide is made difficult by wildlife reservoirs.

TB can also affect other mammals, including humans, badgers, deer, goats, pigs, dogs and cats.

Latest situation: the disease is currently present in Great Britain. See the latest guidance on OV briefing notes on the APHA site.

Scotland achieved Officially Tuberculosis Free Status (OTF) in September 2009 under the EU Council Directive 64/432/EEC. OTF status is recognition of the relatively low and stable incidence of TB found in Scottish herds. This does not mean that Scotland has no cases of bovine tuberculosis, but recognises that we have relatively few cases, below the threshold for that designation. 

After leaving the EU, Scotland’s OTF status is now recognised under the EU 2021/404. Under this legislation, Annex II, Part 1 provides an animal health guarantee for Scotland, which states that ‘The Union has recognised freedom from infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (M. bovis, M. caprae, M. tuberculosis) of the third country, territory or zone as regards the specific species of animals referred to in column 3 in accordance with Article 10 of Delegated Regulation (EU) 2020/692’.

Following EU Exit, third countries, including the territories within the UK, will be listed in a new implementing regulation in accordance with Article 230(1) of Regulation (EU) 2016/429.

Human health implications

Bovine TB is a zoonotic disease which means it can be passed from infected animals to people, causing an illness similar to human TB. However, the risk of people contracting TB from cattle in Scotland is considered to be very low, and there are no recent cases in humans in Scotland linked to cattle infection

Biosecurity

Biosecurity is about being aware of the ways disease can spread and taking every practical measure to minimise the risk of disease spreading. The advice details practical things you can do on your farm to help prevent the introduction and spread of bovine TB to and from your animals.

Scotland TB statistics 2015 – 2020 

  2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Total cattle tested 265,800 244,188 209,951 262,494 248,090 244,125
Total cattle slaughtered 128 150 273 496 199 261
New TB herd incidents 15 11 13 12 14 14

First published: 29 Oct 2018 Last updated: 3 Aug 2021 -