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Bacillus Calmette-Guerin vaccination reduces the severity and progression of tuberculosis in badgers

Chambers, Mark A and Rogers, Fiona and Delahay, Richard J and Lesellier, Sandrine and Ashford, Roland and Dalley, Deanna and Gowtage, Sonya and Davé, Dipesh and Palmer, Si and Brewer, Jacky and Crawshaw, Timothy and Clifton-Hadley, Richard and Carter, Steve and Cheeseman, Chris and Hanks, Chris and Murray, Alistair and Palphramand, Kate and Pietravalle, Stéphane and Smith, Graham C and Tomlinson, Alexandra and Walker, Neil J and Wilson, Gavin J and Corner, Leigh A L and Rushton, Stephen P and Shirley, Mark D F and Gettinby, George and McDonald, Robbie A and Hewinson, R Glyn (2011) Bacillus Calmette-Guerin vaccination reduces the severity and progression of tuberculosis in badgers. Proceedings B: Biological Sciences, 278 (1713). pp. 1913-1920. ISSN 1471-2954

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Abstract

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.