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Charging for Submission of Samples from Animals Kept in Zoos and Safari Parks in England

Guidance for Private Veterinary Surgeons on Charging for Submission of Samples from Animals Kept in Zoos and Safari Parks in England

1. Zoos and safari parks are isolated, self-enclosed animal holdings that are not included in the bovine TB (bTB) eradication programme for England.

2. There is no requirement for statutory TB testing of animals kept at zoos and safari parks in England, except for any co-located herds of domestic cattle eligible for routine TB surveillance or where APHA would require testing of goats, cattle, deer or South American Camelids (SAC) on a zoo/safari park contiguous to cattle herd with an Officially Tuberculosis Free Status Withdrawn (OTFW) breakdown.

3. If bTB is suspected in any live cattle, bison, buffalo, deer, or a carcase of cattle, bison, buffalo, SAC, sheep, goat, pig or deer kept on a zoo or safari park, this is notifiable under the TB Orders. APHA will then assess the strength of evidence of Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis) infection and, if necessary, arrange for ante-mortem diagnostic testing or submission of tissue samples to APHA laboratories for culture for those species only at Government expense.

4. For other exotic zoo animals from zoos or safari parks that are not yet subject to any movement restrictions (i.e. the index case that could trigger a new TB incident if positive on culture), APHA will only meet the costs of post-mortem examination (PME), histopathology and culture, if:

  • there was a reasonable suspicion of TB infection in exotic species in zoos/safari parks that also keep TB-susceptible livestock (e.g. goats, cattle, deer, SAC), or
  • cases are meeting the specific ‘triage’ criteria at Appendix 1 below.

5. Other than in the circumstances in paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 above, other PME or laboratory testing at APHA is chargeable at full economic cost.

6. Other than specified in paragraph 3 above, or where herds of domestic cattle eligible for routine TB surveillance may be present, any ante-mortem TB (skin/blood) testing at zoological collections is not Government-funded and has to be paid for by the zoo/safari park (unless discretion is given by Defra TB policy and usually on confirmation of M. bovis infection by bacteriological culture only).

7. Defra/APHA will not pay compensation for suspect/positive animals in zoos/safari parks that may be culled for TB control purposes, unless testing of live cattle, bison, buffalo, SAC, sheep, goats, pigs or deer was specifically instructed by APHA.

8. APHA will fund the genotyping/whole-genome sequencing of any M. bovis isolates from culture-positive submissions as the agency may consider necessary to help establish the most likely source of infection.

9. If the zoo or safari park premises are currently approved under EU Directive 92/65/EEC ('Balai') for the exchange of animals with other zoological collections, there is an obligation placed on the responsible private Veterinarian (Approved Veterinary Surgeon (AVS)) to notify APHA of suspicion of any notifiable disease in any animal. This is for international trade purposes rather than TB-specific legislation. When tuberculosis is suspected, APHA will suspend the Balai status and advise the AVS to submit suitable diagnostic samples for culture for M. bovis (refer to paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 above for charging). The APHA Field Vet responsible will notify APHA Centre for International Trade. If disease is suspected rather than confirmed then restrictions may be applied only to the species susceptible to the disease based on a Veterinary Risk Assessment (VRA). If confirmed, APHA are obliged to withdraw Balai approval and the list of approved Balai establishments published on GOV.UK will be amended accordingly.

10. In zoos or safari parks that are not Balai-approved with no bovine animals present, and if the suspicion of TB does not involve a deer or a camelid, or the carcase of a sheep, goat or pig, notification to APHA of suspected TB in live exotic zoo species or carcases of these animals is not mandatory. Even so, voluntary reporting and submission by the Private Vet of any samples to APHA for laboratory testing is considered best practice in order to help rule TB out.

11. Transport of any carcases to APHA post-mortem sites, or samples to APHA laboratories, is the responsibility of the zoo/safari park.

Appendix 1 - Triage criteria for submission of samples from TB-suspected zoo animals, from zoos/safari parks in England where susceptible livestock are not kept, at government expense

1. Zoo animals from England referred to in paragraph 4 above need to meet at least two of the criteria below to qualify for free-of-charge post-mortem examination and/or bacteriological testing at APHA to confirm or rule out M. bovis infection under project SB4510. Testing is only to be carried out if a suitable sample (usually lesioned fresh or frozen tissue) or carcase is available.

2. Histopathology/fine needle aspirate cytology results from a private, Vet school, or APHA laboratory consistent with tuberculous (granulomatous) lesions.

3. Gross post-mortem findings from a private veterinary practice, Vet school, private or APHA laboratory consistent with tuberculous (granulomatous) lesions.

4. Images of post-mortem lesions provided by Private Vet that are agreed to be highly suspicious of TB by APHA Veterinarian/Veterinary Investigation Officer (VIO)/pathologist.

5. Acid-fast bacilli suspicious of mycobacteria detected from a lesion consistent with TB.

6. PCR positive result for MTB complex bacteria, from a clinical or post-mortem sample.

7. A positive result for M. bovis infection on a validated serological test carried out by APHA.

8. If the animal does not qualify under any of the criteria set out above, the Private Veterinary Surgeon (PVS) also has the option to submit carcases or samples from zoo animals for diagnostic testing for bTB to APHA at full economic cost.

Appendix 2 - Requirements for submissions for TB diagnosis at APHA

Post-mortem, Sampling and Culture

1. Post-mortem examinations on animals from zoos and safari parks are typically carried out by Private Zoo Veterinarians but may also be submitted to APHA post-mortem examination centres.

2. In England, in cases of suspect bTB in live animals or where carcases are identified and reported to APHA Duty Vet, the decision on whether testing should be carried out, and if it should be chargeable or Government-funded, will be based on the above criteria. Practitioners should discuss the case with the APHA Duty Vet at the local APHA Field Services office prior to submitting carcases or samples to APHA PME sites or laboratories. The APHA Duty Vet will advise whether the case is eligible for testing free of charge. Refer to to find the APHA Field Services contact details.

3. If submitting a carcase or a sample for Government-funded post-mortem examination or TB culture, the carcase or sample should be accompanied by a Material for Examination Form (TB50) provided by APHA.

4. If submitting samples for privately funded TB culture, samples should be accompanied by a BA704 form.

5. Samples submitted to APHA Weybridge for TB culture should be up to 30 grams of fresh or frozen lesioned tissue, preferably in 60ml Cellstor screw top pots. The tissue should not be placed into any transport medium. If the tissue has been frozen, the form should be marked accordingly.

6. The sample must be dispatched in a leak-proof pot or bag and then double-contained in a larger leak-proof pot or bio-jar, then placed inside an outer cardboard box to satisfy the requirements set out in UN3373 for transport of biological substances.

7. The sample must be accompanied by a fully completed submission form (TB50 or BA704) with the name of local APHA Field Services office, the full address of the zoo/safari park, holding number and contact email address.

The box must be labelled clearly as follows:

APHA Weybridge
TB Diagnosis Section
Laboratory Services
Woodham Lane
New Haw
KT15 3NB

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