“Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) is a zoonotic disease which has persisted in cattle populations despite a stringent test and slaughter policy (Delahay et al., 2003). Britain must remain within EU guidelines on cattle TB incidence with implications for the meat trade between Britain and Europe for failure to do so (Wilkinson et al., 2004). The continued prevalence of the disease therefore has considerable scope for economic repercussions.
Badgers were first suspected as being reservoir hosts for the disease in the 1970s, with the first infected badger discovered in 1974 in Ireland (Aznar et al., 2011). Badgers are now considered to be the most significant wildlife reservoir of the disease and have been the subject of culling regimes since the 1970s (Delahay et al., 2003). Badgers are however a protected species under British law and have been since 1973 (Wilson, Carter & Delahay, 2011).
Studies into disease prevalence within the badger population have shown that 36 - 50% of badgers were infected with bTB. Badgers culled in response to bTB herd breakdown showed a higher disease prevalence than the wider population (Murphy et al., 2011).
The precise mechanics of bTB transmission between badgers and cattle is not fully understood but is considered to centre on environmental contamination with urine, faeces and sputum from infectious badgers (Delahay et al., 2003). Woodroffe et al., 2009 identified that most M. bovis strains were shared between badgers and associated cattle. This provides evidence for transmission between badgers and cattle.
Despite continued culling policies the incidence of bTB in cattle has continued to rise (Delahay et al, 2003). Field trials have shown only moderate decreases in the incidence of cattle bTB in badger cull areas with increases in neighbouring areas (Aznar et al., 2011). The Randomised Badger Culling Trial demonstrated that reactive culling completely failed to reduce TB in cattle and proactive culling was associated with”
Something about your area!