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Tuber Lung Dis. 2000;80(4-5):229-36.

The development of wildlife control strategies for eradication of tuberculosis in cattle in Ireland.

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Department of Large Animal Clinical Studies, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland.


Wildlife species, such as badgers, act as maintenance hosts for Mycobacterium bovis and contribute to the spread and persistence of tuberculosis in associated cattle populations. In areas in which there is a tuberculosis problem affecting a number of herds, the involvement of infected wildlife in the introduction of M. bovis infection into herds act as a constraint to eradication of the disease. Epidemiological evidence demonstrates a high prevalence of tuberculosis in badgers, and controlled studies involving comprehensive badger removal have shown that this strategy can serve to significantly reduce cattle reactor rates in the targeted areas. However, as the badger is a protected wildlife species, alternative strategies are required to combat the disease. Targeted vaccination of wildlife species against tuberculosis is an option which, if successfully employed, could directly facilitate the advancement of bovine tuberculosis eradication in affected areas. Any proposed vaccination programme would need to be undertaken against the background of an exhaustive investigation of the cattle and herd management-related factors, and take account of environmental issues.

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