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Vet Microbiol. 2011 Jul 5;151(1-2):43-50. doi: 10.1016/j.vetmic.2011.02.024. Epub 2011 Feb 24.

Advances and prospects for management of TB transmission between badgers and cattle.

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The Food and Environment Research Agency, Sand Hutton, York YO41 1LZ, UK.


Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is the most serious endemic disease facing the livestock industry in the United Kingdom (UK) and Republic of Ireland (RoI), where its management has been confounded by the presence of persistent infection in the Eurasian badger (Meles meles). Field evidence suggests that the social structure of badger populations can have an important influence on disease dynamics, and on the outcome of management interventions. Recent, large-scale badger culling experiments in the UK and RoI had complex epidemiological outcomes. In the UK, proactive culling led to reduced bTB incidence in cattle herds inside culled areas, but a temporary increase in adjacent areas. Reactive culling in response to herd breakdowns was associated with an increase in the incidence of bTB in cattle. In contrast, badger culling in RoI was reported to have only beneficial effects on bTB incidence in cattle. The reasons for these differences are not clear. The complexity of the evidence base for culling is highlighted by the different management approaches currently being adopted by the different authorities of the UK and RoI. It is generally accepted that a holistic approach to bTB management, which targets both cattle and wildlife, is necessary. Consequently recent research activities have also focussed on cattle and badger vaccines, and biosecurity on farms. This paper describes recent advances in our understanding of the epidemiology of bTB in badgers and the consequences of culling, and current research to develop approaches for the vaccination of badgers, and methods of managing the risks of contact between badgers and cattle in farm buildings.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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