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Distribution of Mycobacterium bovis infection in naturally infected badgers

L. A. L. Corner, D. O'Meara, E. Costello, S. Lesellier, E. Gormley

IDENTIFICATION of badgers naturally infected with TB is generally based on routine postmortem examination for gross lesions. This study aimed to compare diagnostic procedures and accurately determine the distribution of Mycobacterium bovis infection in badgers using a comprehensive bacteriological examination as the key diagnostic procedure and examining samples from a wide range of anatomical sites.

Of the 132 badgers examined, 127 were captured during culling operations and five from road traffic accidents in areas where culling was being carried out. Of the diagnostic procedures used, bacteriological culture was the most sensitive and specific, with M bovis being isolated from 57 badgers (43.2 per cent). Histological lesions consistent with TB were observed in 46 badgers and gross tuberculous lesions were seen in 30. Of the 57 infected animals, 47.4 per cent had no gross lesions and 31.6 per cent had no histological lesions.

The researchers sampled the head and body lymph nodes, organ tissues and clinical samples (faeces and urine). The most frequently infected sites were the lungs and axillary lymph nodes. The culture of clinical samples was found to be an insensitive means of detecting M bovis infection; …

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