DEFRA has confirmed that the first injectable vaccine against bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in badgers will be tested in six areas next year, including target zones near Stafford, Worcester, Cheltenham, Gloucester, Tiverton and Exeter.
Each area of the six chosen areas will cover 25,000 acres of farm land, in an attempt to target specific areas where badgers and cattle interact.
The trials – announced in a briefing earlier today – are estimated to cost somewhere in the region of £5-10million, will be funded by DEFRA and are set to start in summer 2010, once the injectable vaccine is available.
However, the trials are not a test of the vaccine’s efficacy, but of its deployment, which will be undertaken by contractors specially trained by the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA).
Badgers will be caught in traps and will receive intra-muscular injections while still in the cages. Vaccination will be undertaken annually on the chosen farmsites for a period of at least five years.
DEFRA is currently in talks with farmers to request access to farm sites for thetrials. Participating farmers will not receive payment for granting access to their land, but will receive the vaccinations for free. DEFRA also hopes that farmers outside the trial area will buy the injectable vaccine once it is licensed next summer.
For further details, see next week’s Veterinary Times.