SureFarm has launched the UK’s first government approved private health scheme for the voluntary surveillance of bTB for the camelid industry.
SureFarm Camelid Diagnostics uses a new serological blood test, the Enferplex Test, which the company says provides far greater accuracy than the current skin test, which is known to be imprecise in camelids.
The test only requires a single blood sample to be taken for testing from Camelids. The scheme also uses a statistical assessment to aid determination of herd infection status, pioneered by SureFarm’s Alastair Hayton. This has been approved by Defra.
The company said the scheme would enable herd level testing to confirm freedom from infection, testing of individual stock before movement or purchase and pre-export testing.
The Camelid Diagnostics system has been developed over the last two years in conjunction with Defra, AHVLA, the British Alpaca Society and the British Camelid Society. NFU deputy president Minette Batters attended the launch.
The test is also available for the wider farming, zoological and pet industries, although this is still at the research phase of development.
Peter Roissetter, of British Alpaca Society said he was pleased that Government has approved ‘this ground breaking voluntary scheme’.
“We have been working with British Llama Society and Camelid Vets for over two years to try to find the most accurate bTB test and ensure its availability to our members
“The BAS is optimistic that Government will soon finalise a realistic compensation package and the protocols for use in a confirmed bTB breakdown, which will complete the overall approach we take in combating this disease.”
Claire Whitehead, president of the British Camelid Veterinary Society, said the new serological blood test would ‘take away the uncertainty of the skin test and provide an opportunity for owners to verify the health of their herds’.
The spread of bTB has been a growing concern within the camelid industry for a number of years.
The latest official figures show, at the end of August 2013, 80 camelid herds had been confirmed with the disease since 1999. But the actual number is likely to be higher due to the lack of mandatory testing and surveillance.
In one outbreak alone, more than 400 alpacas kept on a premises near Haywards Heath, in East Sussex, were culled due to the disease.
Defra has recently consulted on proposals to strengthen TB surveillance in camelids but has fallen short of proposing to a mandatory testing regime.
The consultation said Defra has accepted industry proposals for a voluntary health scheme but will ‘look again’ at statutory surveillance if this does not deliver desired results.
SureFarm is a subsidiary of Synergy farm Health, a company set up mainly by vets to provide the UK’s first ever private health scheme for the surveillance of bovine tuberculosis.