Culling and cattle controls influence tuberculosis risk for badgers

Authors Organisations
  • Rosie Woodroffe(Author)
    University of California, Davis
    Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB
  • Christl A. Donnelly(Author)
    Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB
    Imperial College London
  • Helen E. Jenkins(Author)
    Imperial College London
  • W. Thomas Johnston(Author)
    Imperial College London
  • David R. Cox(Author)
    Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB
    University of Oxford
  • F. John Bourne(Author)
    Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB
  • Chris L. Cheeseman(Author)
    Central Science Laboratory York
  • Richard J. Delahay(Author)
    Central Science Laboratory York
  • Richard S. Clifton-Hadley(Author)
    Animal and Plant Health Agency
  • George Gettinby(Author)
    Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB
    University of Strathclyde
  • Peter Gilks(Author)
    Imperial College London
  • Glyn Hewinson(Author)
    Animal and Plant Health Agency
  • John P. McInerney(Author)
    Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB
  • W. Ivan Morrison(Author)
    Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB
    University of Edinburgh
Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14713-14717
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume103
Issue number40
DOI
Publication statusPublished - 03 Oct 2006
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Abstract

Human and livestock diseases can be difficult to control where infection persists in wildlife populations. In Britain, European badgers (Meles meles) are implicated in transmitting Mycobacterium bovis, the causative agent of bovine tuberculosis (TB), to cattle. Badger culling has therefore been a component of British TB control policy for many years. However, large-scale field trials have recently shown that badger culling has the capacity to cause both increases and decreases in cattle TB incidence. Here, we show that repeated badger culling in the same area is associated with increasing prevalence of M. bovis infection in badgers, especially where landscape features allow badgers from neighboring land to recolonize culled areas. This impact on prevalence in badgers might reduce the beneficial effects of culling on cattle TB incidence, and could contribute to the detrimental effects that have been observed. Additionally, we show that suspension of cattle TB controls during a nationwide epidemic of foot and mouth disease, which substantially delayed removal of TB-affected cattle, was associated with a widespread increase in the prevalence of M. bovis infection in badgers. This pattern suggests that infection may be transmitted from cattle to badgers, as well as vice versa. Clearly, disease control measures aimed at either host species may have unintended consequences for transmission, both within and between species. Our findings highlight the need for policymakers to consider multiple transmission routes when managing multihost pathogens.

Keywords

  • Behavior, Bovine tuberculosis, Epidemiology, Meles Meles, Perturbation