January 15, 2005


 Assessing tuberculosis testing

Posted Jan. 1, 2005

Having received the approval of the Executive Board, the AVMA will support the Department of Agriculture's proposal to create a performance standard for the caudal fold tuberculosis test for cattle to assess accredited veterinarians' compliance with expectations. The AVMA will provide support by explaining the need for the program through the Association's communication channels.

Because the caudal fold test's specificity is less than 100 percent, a small percentage of tested cattle will respond, even if they are not infected with Mycobacterium bovis and will, therefore, be reported to a state or USDA veterinarian. If an accredited veterinarian performs a considerable number of tests without reporting any responders, or reports at a substantially lower level than expected, a USDA or state veterinarian will visit the veterinarian, as part of an investigation, and provide that veterinarian with additional education and training.

Currently, the USDA is concerned that there may be an underreporting of TB responders and, consequently, inefficient detection of TB infection. In addition, international trading partners are assessing U.S. surveillance capabilities and performance.

The USDA and AVMA believe that a program to evaluate performance of this test by accredited veterinarians is needed to reassure international trading partners. The program would establish expectations of the test, communicate those expectations to accredited veterinarians, monitor performance, and follow up when expectations are not met.