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Research reveals new clue in fight against TB in cattle

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The failure of the current bovine tuberculosis (TB) eradication programme could be partly due to a parasitic worm that hinders the tests used to diagnose TB in cows, according to new research published this week.

Scientists at The Universities of Nottingham and Liverpool have discovered that a parasitic flatworm often found in cattle reduces the sensitivity of skin tests used to diagnose TB in the animals. The flatworm is called Fasciola hepatica, otherwise known as the common liver fluke.

Bovine TB is a bacterial disease that in 2011 resulted in the slaughter of approximately 25,000 cattle in England, at a cost to the country of more than £90 million. Solutions for eradicating the infection have included badger culling, but new research, published in Nature Communications, now suggests that the spread of the disease may also be due to problems in diagnosing it in cattle infected with the common livestock disease.

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