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Holistic approach to bovine tuberculosis – there is more to control than just testing

Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is an infectious disease just like Johne's disease, bovine viral diarrhoea and leptospirosis. Yet unlike these other infections, which vets and farmers manage well together, the private vet rarely gets involved in the management of bTB. This is perhaps because we have never been given any opportunity to be more than just the tester and when we find reactors we have to ‘shut down’ our clients' businesses. Many of us have lost confidence in the bTB test and the policies in place to manage this disease and some of us are unsure as to why bTB is still notifiable. Indeed, many practices are no longer carrying out bTB testing for their clients so vets need to re‐engage with bTB as an infectious disease. They need to understand what they are able to do on farm to support farmers and ensure that they are doing everything they can to reduce the chance, and length of a bTB breakdown. There are positive things vets and farmers can do to take back some control over bTB. The aim of this article is to encourage farm teams to see bTB as an infectious disease, to understand what risks can lead to a bTB breakdown and know how to reduce, if not eliminate, those risks. Moreover, I hope this article helps you to appreciate the role vets have in ensuring that farmers engage in on‐farm measures to control this devastating disease.