206461 - Bovine Tuberculosis (Answered)

Mrs Anne Main
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether she will assess more than six species of wildlife as potential carriers of bovine TB and in relation to tackling that disease.

George Eustice

Mycobacterium bovis (the bovine TB bacterium) has a wide range of hosts and can infect (and cause TB) in virtually all mammalian species, including farmed animals other than cattle, companion animals and wildlife. While M. bovis has been found in a number of different British wild mammals, evidence from previous wildlife surveys, risk assessments and modelling studies indicates that the badger remains the principal and possibly the only significant wildlife maintenance host of the bacterium in the West of England and parts of Wales. Consequently, Defra is not currently planning to test further wildlife species for TB (apart from the statutory notifications of deer carcases with suspect TB lesions), although we will keep under review the potential role of other wildlife, especially deer, in the epidemiology of this disease.