Bovine TB (Tuberculosis) is a respiratory disease of cattle. It is a notifiable disease and can affect humans as well as other animals.

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First published:
21 December 2018
Last updated:

The disease has a significant impact on farms and the agricultural economy.

Suspicion and confirmation

Contact your local Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) Office immediately on 0300 303 8268, if you suspect Bovine TB

APHA vets will investigate suspected cases.

Clinical signs

Clinical signs include:

  • chronic coughing
  • mastitis
  • weight loss

These signs are rarely seen as our testing regimes are designed to identify the disease early on.

Transmission and prevention

The disease spreads:

  • through close contact between infected and uninfected animals
  • through ingestion of infected milk or milk products
  • through infected muck and slurry, milk and sometimes urine.

The risk to public health is low. Regular testing of cattle, milk pasteurisation and inspections at abattoirs:

  • enables early identification of the disease
  • allows infected animals to be removed
  • reduces the risk of infection in the rest of the herd

There is no effective treatment for infected cattle. It will be a combination of measures aimed at the sources of infection that will enable us to control TB.

We established the TB eradication programme to eradicate the disease. Wildlife (particularly badgers and deer) can also be infected. This makes it difficult to control as we need to stop cattle and wildlife infecting each other.