Despite increasing surveillance, outbreaks of bovine tuberculosis (bTB)
in the UK have steadily increased over the past two decades, with the
disease now costing an estimated £100 million per annum in test and
slaughter costs, and compensation payments.
Research by Professor Wood and Drs McKinley and Conlan has determined
that successful control efforts will depend upon within-herd surveillance
and also on reducing reintroduction from external sources; these results
have directly altered the Department of Environment, Food and Rural
Affairs' (Defra) new (July 2013) bovine TB strategy for England, which
directly cites Dr Conlan's research when justifying changes in proposed
regulations. On publication this research prompted questions during bovine
Tuberculosis debates in both Westminster and the Scottish Parliament by
Andrew George (MP, St. Ives) and Helen Eadie (MSP, Cowdenbeath)
respectively. The work has also received national and specialist media
coverage raising public awareness and understanding of bTB control in
Impact: Policy and public engagement: Formulation of the UK
government's badger culling policy for the control of bovine tuberculosis
that is currently being implemented. The underpinning research also had
wider impact in terms of generating significant public debate and
enhancing public engagement.
Significance: DEFRA has estimated the cost of TB control in
England at £1 billion over the next 10 years without taking further
action, and the cost of TB breakdown on a farm at £34,000
Beneficiaries: Livestock Industry (Cattle farms), Consumers,
Attribution: Work performed by Professor Morrison (University of
Reach: The immediate reach is the UK.
The parasite Neospora caninum is the leading cause of abortion in
cattle in the UK, resulting in
around 6,000 abortions per year; and a $1.3b pa international problem.
There are no effective
drugs or vaccines to control neosporosis. University of Liverpool (UoL)
research on the
development of diagnostic tests, understanding the pathogenesis,
epidemiology and transmission
of N. caninum has made an important contribution to developing
best practise herd health
schemes, now offered by the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories
Agency (AHVLA) and by
a commercial company `myhealthyherd', to eradicate N. caninum
infection from a herd. This has
enabled cattle farmers to improve their businesses by reducing abortion
rates and other costs
associated with neosporosis.
The bovine tuberculosis (TB) research programme led by Professor Donnelly
at Imperial College has been informing policymakers for over a decade.
Professor Donnelly played a leading role in the design, oversight,
analysis and interpretation of the £50 million Randomised Badger Culling
Trial (RBCT, 1998-2006), overseeing a bovine-TB research team at Imperial
since 2001. The RBCT compared two candidate culling policies (large-scale
culling repeated annually and one-off small-scale culls near farms
affected by bovine TB) with areas in which no badger culling took place.
Informed by RBCT results (in which widespread culling decreased cattle
incidence inside the culling area but increased it on neighbouring farms),
the Secretary of State Hilary Benn ruled out badger culling as a control
measure in July 2008. However, the coalition government took a different
view and in December 2011 announced that farmers could apply for licences
to undertake farmer-led (and farmer-funded) badger culling to control TB
in cattle. Several of the government's licensing requirements for badger
culls in England were based on many of the team's results. In contrast,
having proposed in 2010 a large government-led cull, the Welsh government
chose in March 2012 to vaccinate, rather than cull, badgers informed by
the same set of results.
A University of Glasgow bovine tuberculosis (bTB) surveillance model was
fundamental to new
Scottish Government policy on bTB testing. Implemented on 1st
January 2012, the policy change
used the Glasgow model to indicate which cattle herds can be exempt from
routine testing while
still maintaining Scotland's Officially bTB Free status. In 2012 this
translated to exemption of more
than 30% of Scottish herds from routine testing, with an associated
government saving of
£150,000. The revised policy also provided savings to the Scottish farming
industry in the region of
£100,000 (2012) and limited the risks of bTB testing to farmers,
veterinarians and cattle. The rapid
success of the ground-breaking Scottish research-led bTB policy
development has been
highlighted by the Civil Service as best practice and has been presented
to numerous policy
audiences including the European Commission, providing the opportunity to
practices and livestock surveillance policy across the UK and beyond.
Impact: Economics, policy, animal and human health: In 2006, SoS
(a Public Private Partnership-PPP) was established involving: University
of Edinburgh, a pharmaceutical company, a charity, and the Govt. of Uganda
to control sleeping sickness by eliminating Trypanasome carriage in
cattle. The prevalence of trypanosomiasis has been reduced by 75% and
sleeping sickness cases have fallen year on year since the PPP was
established and Uganda has received a cost benefit between US$125 and
Beneficiaries: The Ugandan population, Ugandan Cattle population.
Significance: Sleeping sickness, which is difficult to diagnose
and treat in humans, is often fatal. Ten million Ugandans are at risk from
sleeping sickness. SoS established a veterinary network in Uganda
Attribution: Professor Welburn (University of Edinburgh, UoE)
founded SoS and developed essential diagnostic techniques.
Reach: SoS provides a model for the elimination of the disease
across sub Saharan Africa in an economically sustainable fashion - with
over 22 million people at risk.
The use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for their
pain-relieving properties in
cattle medicine has lagged behind that of other species (e.g. companion
animals) where analgesic
use is now routine. University of Nottingham (UoN) research exploring the
attitudes of vets and
farmers to the use of NSAIDs in cattle, and subsequent marketing by
Boehringer Ingelheim, a
multinational pharmaceutical company, has led to a substantial increase in
analgesic use. UoN
research increased sales for Boehringer Ingelheim and almost doubled the
UK market value of
NSAIDs for use in cattle. With administration of up to 2 million
additional doses per year, the
research had clear benefits for animal welfare.
Impact: Economic / animal health and welfare: Established health
schemes to control Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) on Scottish farms and
subsequently underpinned the rationale for cost-effective control
strategies that have been adopted in health schemes around the UK. The
farm-level savings to the industry from future eradication are estimated
by Scottish Government to be £50- £80m.
Significance: BVD is a major endemic disease of cattle in Scotland
costing the dairy industry about £38M per year and an additional £11M to
Beneficiaries: Farmers, cattle, animal health authorities.
Attribution: Professors Gunn and Stott (SRUC).
Reach: The associated health schemes began in Scotland (HI Health)
and now operate throughout Britain (UK CHeCS (Cattle Health Certification
Standards) Health Scheme). The research underpins BVD control schemes in
Ireland and other EU Member States resulting in an avoided output loss of
between €500 to €4,000 per dairy farm per year.
The University of Nottingham (UoN) led research that resulted in the
design, evaluation and
national implementation of a new approach to mastitis control on British
dairy farms; the `DairyCo
Mastitis Control Plan'. The programme, which commenced in 2009, was
implemented on farms
holding 10-15% of all British dairy cows. The uptake of the scheme is
continually increasing and
has generated savings to the British dairy industry to the order of £5-10M
Interdisciplinary research at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) has
provided core evidence on which global efforts are based in order to
eradicate one of the most economically damaging diseases of the cattle
industry. The research findings have helped steer national programmes to
eradicate Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) across Europe, South Asia and
Australasia, reducing economic losses. Professor Joe Brownlie has
additionally led pilot programmes in the UK, providing data for a national
scheme, campaigned widely to highlight the issue and secured farming
industry awareness and support through media exposure.