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Bovine Tuberculosis: Agriculture

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 3168, tabled on 18 May 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of Mycoplasma bovis on the farming industry.

Answered on

26 May 2021

There is an ongoing assessment for the detection of, and disease due to, Mycoplasma bovis and other respiratory pathogens. This is conducted both by the network of veterinary investigation centres throughout the UK, and via samples sent by private veterinarians to Government laboratories and private laboratories.

Mycoplasma bovis is still considered to be a significant pathogen in bovine respiratory disease.

A survey is due to be published by the UK Ruminant Health and Welfare Group. This comprehensive survey of cattle farmers and cattle professionals (veterinarians and farm advisors) asked 530 cattle farmers to rank their disease concerns. Mycoplasma bovis was ranked 7th most important by professionals, 12th by dairy farmers and 9th by beef farmers.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) has a dedicated and specialist Mycoplasma group at its Weybridge Laboratory. This group advises veterinarians in other countries about Mycoplasma bovis and other Mycoplasmas. Respiratory samples from across England and Wales are sent to this group and the testing monitors for other Mycoplasmas, including exotic Mycoplasmas. This includes Mycoplasmas that cause Contagious Bovine Pleuro-pneumonia, which is a notifiable disease.

The results from testing across the network of veterinary investigation centres and partner post-mortem providers in England, Wales and Scotland are collated by a Veterinary Investigation Diagnosis Analysis (VIDA) database. The VIDA results indicate an increase in GB incidents (as a percentage of diagnosable submissions) from 3.5% in 2016 to 5.5% in 2020. Disease trends are summarised in the APHA Quarterly Reports which can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cattle-gb-disease-surveillance-and-emerging-threats-reports.