AN employee at the Government research project at Woodchester Park earlier thought to have contracted bovine tuberculosis has been given the all-clear.

Defra’s Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera) today confirmed that no evidence consistent with infection by bovine TB or human TB was identified.

After the staff member was suspected of contracting TB from a badger in August, around 30 members of staff, half of whom are actively involved in field research, were screened for TB.

Today a Fera statement said a thorough investigation by independent clinicians had been conducted and no specific evidence consistent with infection by bovine TB or human TB was identified.

It means the nature and origin of the Mycobacterial infection in this employee will remain unknown.

The person concerned is well and at work.

A Fera spokesman said: "The health and wellbeing of all staff is paramount for the agency and we initiated a review of our standard operating procedures immediately after this case was identified."

"We also undertook precautionary screening of all other staff working in this specialist area and are able to rule out occupational exposure to TB in all except one case.

"One individual has been found to have a latent infection, but due to the nature of such infections, it is not possible to determine how or when the infection was acquired or whether it is human TB or bovine TB.

"This person is well, has not exhibited any clinical symptoms and is at work.

"The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has been informed of this outcome. They have confirmed that they are content with our actions and do not intend to take any action themselves.

"The outcome of the investigation has no implications for our understanding of the health risks associated with bovine TB, or for government policy on bovine TB."

This was the first case of suspected bovine TB at the site, where staff have worked closely with infected badgers for more than 30 years.

The project at Woodchester Park – formerly called the Central Science Laboratory – was set up in 1975 to investigate the possible transmission of bovine TB between badgers and cattle.

Fera staff have regular close contact with infected badgers in the course of their specialist research.

The risk of humans being infected with bovine TB is low.

Most cases seen today of bovine TB in humans are attributable to infection picked up abroad or reactivation of infection in older people who contracted the infection before the introduction of milk pasteurisation.