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Vet J. 2002 Sep;164(2):90-105.

The status of Mycobacterium bovis infection in UK wild mammals: a review.

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Central Science Laboratory, Sand Hutton, York, UK.


Bovine tuberculosis caused by Mycobacterium bovis is a zoonotic infection with a wide range of mammalian hosts. In parts of the UK M. bovis infection in cattle is a persistent problem. The European badger (Meles meles) is implicated in the transmission of M. bovis to cattle, and is widely believed to constitute the most important reservoir of infection in UK wildlife. However, few studies have been carried out on the status of M. bovis infection in other UK mammals. In this review we present information on the incidence and pathology of M. bovis infection in UK wild mammals from both published and previously unpublished sources. Although the evidence does not support the existence of a significant self-maintaining reservoir of infection in any wild mammal other than the badger, there is a clear lack of sufficient data to rule out the involvement of other species. In the light of this and the dynamic nature of epidemiological patterns, further surveillance for M. bovis infection in UK wild mammals, using modern methods of diagnosis, is essential.

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