Control of bovine tuberculosis (TB) in cattle has proven particularly challenging where reservoirs of infection exist in wildlife populations. In Britain and Ireland, control is hampered by a reservoir of infection in Eurasian badgers (Meles meles). Badger culling has positive and negative effects on bovine TB in cattle and is difficult, costly and controversial. Here we show that Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination of captive badgers reduced the progression, severity and excretion of Mycobacterium bovis infection after experimental challenge. In a clinical field study, BCG vaccination of free-living badgers reduced the incidence of positive serological test results by 73.8 per cent. In common with other species, BCG did not appear to prevent infection of badgers subjected to experimental challenge, but did significantly reduce the overall disease burden. BCG vaccination of badgers could comprise an important component of a comprehensive programme of measures to control bovine TB in cattle.
- bovine tuberculosis
- Bacillus Calmette-Guérin