Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
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Benn announces deployment of injectable badger TB vaccine

Benn announces deployment of injectable badger TB vaccine

DEPARTMENT FOR ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS News Release (60/09) issued by COI News Distribution Service. 19 March 2009

The first vaccine against bovine tuberculosis in badgers will be used in the field in England next year, Environment Secretary Hilary Benn announced today.

The vaccine will be used in six areas of up to 100km2 where there is a high incidence of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in cattle. Vaccination will start in 2010 and continue for at least five years.

It will be the first practical use of a vaccine for TB in badgers outside research trials.

The deployment project will focus on developing practical approaches for use rather than developing further evidence of the effectiveness of the vaccine, although Defra will be looking at the number of cattle herd TB breakdowns in the areas for any changes in cattle disease trends.

Hilary Benn said:

"Developing an effective vaccine for bovine TB is only half the challenge. The other is to deploy it effectively. This project will help us do that. As such it marks real progress in our fight against this terrible disease."

The project will focus on ease of use in the field, securing local engagement in the vaccination campaign, developing practical know how and creation of a skills base. Government, the farming industry and other stakeholders working together will be important for its success.

Defra will begin to sign up participants and train personnel during 2009, with vaccination expected to begin in summer 2010.

The Government is working with the Bovine TB Eradication Group for England and other key groups to develop criteria for selecting the areas where the project will take place, looking specifically at areas with a high incidence of bovine TB in cattle.

Notes to editors

1. Since 1998, Defra has invested significantly in developing vaccines for bovine TB. More than £23 million will have been spent on this research by the end of March 2009.

2. In July 2008, Hilary Benn announced that £20 million would be spent on this research area over the next three years to strengthen the prospects of successfully developing a usable vaccine. He also made clear that additional funding would be provided to set up and run a practical project to prepare for deploying vaccines in the future - the Injectable Badger Vaccine Deployment Project.

3. More information on bovine TB and vaccines is available at http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/tb/vaccination/index.htm.

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