What is Bovine TB

TB in cattle is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium bovis. It can affect humans as well as animals but the risk to public health is kept low through regular testing of cattle, milk pasteurisation and inspections at abattoirs.

TB is mainly a respiratory disease of cattle. Disease spread between infected and uninfected animals is most likely to occur during periods of close contact, particularly when cattle are housed. The bacterium can also enter the body through ingestion and infection can be present in muck and slurry, milk and sometimes urine. In the UK clinical signs are rarely seen because cattle are removed before they develop any signs of illness. The signs can include:

  • chronic coughing
  • mastitis
  • weight loss.

Following infection it may be many months or years before the disease becomes apparent. Infected cattle can spread infection long before they show any sign of being unwell. The control and eradication of the disease relies on the early detection and removal of infected animals before they become ill. 


Wildlife, such as badgers, can also be infected and cattle and badgers can infect each other. Direct contact between badgers and cattle at pasture is thought to occur infrequently but badgers visiting farm buildings can be more of a disease risk. 

Other animals

Although the disease primarily occurs in cattle and badgers, it also affects other domesticated animals and wildlife such as:

  • camelids (llamas, alpacas, guanacos and vicunas)
  • deer
  • goats
  • sheep
  • pigs
  • wild boar
  • cats
  • dogs.

TB Eradication Programme Board

The  bovine TB Eradication Programme in Wales  is overseen by the TB Eradication Programme Board. The Board provides overall direction and management of the Programme. It is chaired by Christianne Glossop, the Chief Veterinary Officer. The Board also includes representation from:

  • farming industry
  • veterinary profession
  • Animal and Plant Health Agency
  • Welsh Government.

Regional TB Eradication Delivery Boards

In addition, three Regional TB Eradication Delivery Boards were established in 2008 to ensure that delivery is effective and reflects local conditions. These Boards include representatives from the farming industry, such as:

  • farmers
  • vets
  • auctioneers
  • local council Trading Standards
  • the Animal and Plant Health Agency.

If you would like to contact your local regional board please email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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