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Vaccination indirectly reduces risk of TB in unvaccinated badger cubs

S. P. Carter, M. A. Chambers, S. P. Rushton, M. D. F. Shirley, P. Schuchert, S. Pietravalle

WILDLIFE is a global source of endemic and emerging infectious diseases. The control of tuberculosis (TB) in cattle in Great Britain and Ireland is thought to be hindered by persistent infection in wild badgers. BCG vaccination has been shown to reduce the severity and progression of experimentally induced TB in captive badgers.

This report further analyses the results from a four-year clinical field study of the effects of parenteral administration of BCG in wild badgers undertaken between November 2005 and October 2009. It presents evidence suggesting a direct beneficial effect of vaccination in individual badgers and an indirect protective effect in unvaccinated cubs.

Field work was carried out in an area of mixed woodland and agricultural land in Gloucestershire, where TB was known to be endemic in the badger population.

Analysis of the results suggested that intramuscular injection of BCG reduced the risk of free-living vaccinated individuals testing positive to a diagnostic test combination to detect progressive infection by 76 per cent. Analysis of the results obtained using a more sensitive panel of tests for the detection of Mycobacterium bovis infection suggested …

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