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Prev Vet Med. 2009 Mar 1;88(3):178-84. doi: 10.1016/j.prevetmed.2008.09.008. Epub 2008 Oct 21.

Targeted badger removal and the subsequent risk of bovine tuberculosis in cattle herds in county Laois, Ireland.

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Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Clinical Research Building, Guelph, Ont., Canada N1G 2W1.


We investigated the impact of targeted removal of badgers on the subsequent bovine tuberculosis (BTB) risk in cattle herds in county Laois, Ireland. The study period was 1989-2005. For each of 122 targeted badger-removal licenses (permit to remove badgers in the proximity of cattle herds undergoing a serious BTB episode), the herd number (index herd) for which the license was given was obtained. The herds in the proximity of the index herd were identified from another database. The main "exposure" in our study was the geographical location of herds relative to the area in which targeted badger removal was conducted. We categorized herds into five different exposure groups: herds were classified as non-exposed and denoted as group 0 (reference group) if they were located 500 m or more from the edge of any parcel of land of the index herd; group 1, was the index herds, group 2 the immediate (contiguous) neighbors of the index herd, group 3 herds were not immediate neighbors but within 150 m and group 4 herds were between 150 m and 500 m distance from the edge of any parcel of land of the index herd, respectively. We conducted a survival analysis (allowing multiple failures per herd) to compare the hazard of having a BTB episode in any of the four groups of exposed herds vs. the hazard in herds in the reference group. We controlled for other known risk factors as well taking into account a temporal component. Our analysis showed that the hazard ratio for the index herds (group 1) were non-significantly increased, indicating that there was no difference in the hazard of failing a BTB test (after the targeted badger removal was conducted) between index herds and reference herds. For the rest of the herds farther away from badger removal activities the hazards were lower than herds in areas not under badger removal. The hazard in the reference group decreased over the study period.

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