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Phage testing for bovine TB

There have been several articles in the media and farming press discussing the potential use of ‘Phage’ tests to identify cattle infected with bovine TB. Phage testing identifies live M.bovis (or similar Mycobacteria) in milk or blood, although is unclear at this stage whether this is a reliable measure of infection. For example, will all cattle infected with M. bovis have live bacteria in their blood/milk, or only animals at certain stages of infection?

Given the understandable interest in phage testing I have produced a short fact sheet describing some of the basics of how phage testing works and referencing some of the key scientific papers published on the subject to date. Phage testing is an active area of research with companies such as PBDbio ( in the process of developing rapid phage testing for TB. There are currently no published studies which give the details of this ‘rapid’ test, although earlier studies have described the methods for a less rapid test. These studies are outlined in the fact sheet below (click the link to download a pdf version)….

Download phage fact sheet pdf