Introduction by Dr Brian May

"We have great hopes for this conference. By bringing so much wisdom together in one room we hope to take a step towards establishing the whole truth about bovine TB, and, in frank and open discussion, open a new era of genuine cooperation in the fight against this pernicious pathogen.”   Brian May 

Opening remarks

Professor Lord Krebs Kt FRS FMed Sci

John Krebs completed his undergraduate degree in Zoology and his Ph D in population ecology at Oxford.  He worked at the University of British Columbia and the University of Wales before returning to Oxford as Lecturer in Zoology and then Royal Society Research Professor.  From 1994-99 he served as Chief Executive of the Natural Environment Research Council and from 2000-2005 as the founding Chairman of the Food Standards Agency. Between 2005 and 2015 he was Principal of Jesus College, Oxford  He is a cross bench peer. In 1997, his report on bovine tuberculosis in cattle led to the establishment of the randomised badger culling trials.


Professor Ian Boyd BSc PhD DSc FSB FSRE, Defra

Bovine TB: A Strategic Overview

Professor Boyd is the Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government on Food and Environment.  In the past he has been Director of the Scottish Oceans Institute at the University of St Andrews and the Sea Mammal Research Unit, a partner institute of the Natural Environment Research Council since 2001.  He is also currently an adviser to the Principal’s Office at the University of St Andrews focussing upon commercialisation and knowledge exchange.  He is on the Board of Reviewing Editors of Science and is a former Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Zoology.  He was responsible for creating several companies that are owned by the University of St Andrews and these now have international subsidiaries in the USA, Canada and Hong Kong. He has BSc and DSc degrees for the University of Aberdeen, a PhD from Cambridge University and has received prizes for his research including the Scientific Medal of the Zoological Society of London and the Bruce Medal for Polar Science from the Royal Society of Edinburgh.  He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and of the Society of Biology. 


Section I: Cattle-based controls  Chair: Rosie Woodroffe

Performance of the current cattle tests

Prof James Wood, University of Cambridge

Professor James Wood is an infectious disease epidemiologist and Head of University of Cambridge Veterinary School. He sits as an independent scientist on Defra’s TB Eradication Advisory Group and is a member of its Science Advisory Council. He has published more than 200 papers in international refereed journals and researches a number of diseases including bovine tuberculosis in Ethiopia, as well as in the UK.

Welsh approach to TB eradication

Prof Christianne Glossop, Welsh Government

Christianne was appointed the first Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales in June 2005.  Working within the Welsh Government she heads up the Office of the Chief Veterinary Officer, and is Director responsible for animal health and welfare policy and strategy.  Her top priorities are to work with all interested parties to raise standards of animal health and welfare, ensure a state of preparedness for any incursion of exotic notifiable disease, and to drive forward the TB eradication programme in Wales. Christianne qualified from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), London, where she also completed her PhD on aspects of cattle fertility.  She has specialised in food animal production and medicine throughout her career, with a particular interest in breeding technologies.  She is Past President of both the International and British Pig Veterinary Societies, and has also served on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust and British Veterinary Association Councils.  Joining the State Veterinary Service (now Animal and Plant Health Agency) during the 2001 Foot and Mouth Disease epidemic, her last role within that organisation was Divisional Veterinary  Manager in Reading. She is an Associate of the Royal Agricultural Societies, Honorary Fellow of the RVC and the University of Aberystywth, and holds an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Plymouth and from Harper Adams University. 



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 Chairman Prof. David Macdonald CBE DSc FRSE
Director, Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, University of Oxford Chair, Science Advisory Committee, Natural England


10:15 Comparing the epidemiological effects of badger vaccination and culling
Prof. Rosie Woodroffe - Zoological Society of London

Vaccination and culling have both been used in attempts to control wildlife diseases, but work in fundamentally different ways. Culling is intended to reduce transmission by removing infected animals (which can transmit disease) and by removing susceptible animals (which can become infected). By contrast, vaccination is intended to “remove” susceptible animals by making them immune. Although culling is generally intended to reduce disease transmission, badger culling is associated with increases in the proportion of badgers infected with Mycobacterium bovis (the pathogen which causes bovine tuberculosis [TB]). This increase in M. bovis transmission reflects changes in badger behaviour caused by culling. Such changes limit the extent to which culling can reduce the density of infected badgers. Unless badger numbers are drastically reduced, badger culling increases the incidence of TB in cattle.
Fewer data are available on the impacts of badger vaccination for TB control. Nevertheless, scientific consensus indicates that this approach would be expected to reduce the proportion of infected badgers, if implemented annually over several years. Vaccination is likely to be less costly than culling because it is unlikely to require much policing. Costs can be reduced still further by involving volunteers in fieldwork.
There is interest in exploring combinations of badger vaccination and culling. Culling would be expected to undermine the benefits of subsequent vaccination by leaving a lower proportion of susceptible animals to be protected by vaccination. Moreover, evidence suggests that perturbation might also compromise attempts at selective culling of infected badgers.
Overall, badger vaccination may potentially contribute more than culling to eventual TB eradication, because the proportion of infected badgers would be reduced rather than increased. While the consequences of badger vaccination for cattle TB control are still unknown, unfavourable comparisons with culling are frequently based on an incomplete picture of the consequences of culling.


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