The Randomized Badger Culling Trial (RBCT) began in 1998 to determine the impact of badger culling in controlling bovine tuberculosis in cattle. A total of 1166 badgers (14% of total)proactively culled during the RBCT were found to be tuberculous, offering a unique opportunity to study the pathology caused by Mycobacterium bovis in a large sample of badgers. Of these, 39% of adults (y6% of all adults culled) had visible lesions (detectable at necropsy) of bovine tuberculosis ; cubs had a lower prevalence of infection (9%) but a higher percentage of tuberculous cubs (55.5%) had visible lesions. Only ~1% of adult badgers had extensive, severe pathology. Tuberculous badgers with recorded bite wounds (~5%) had a higher prevalence of
visible lesions and a different distribution of lesions, suggesting transmission via bite wounds. However, the predominance of lesions in the respiratory tract indicates that most transmission occurs by the respiratory route.
- Mycobacterium bovis
- bovine tuberculosis
- randomized badger culling trial