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The Risk to Cattle from Mycobacterium bovis Infection in Wildlife Species other than Badgers - SE3009(2)


The main aim of our proposal is to investigate the risk to cattle from potential wildlife reservoirs of Mycobacterium bovis infection other than badgers. This is one of the key research areas highlighted in the Krebs report and the MAFF Animal Health and Welfare Research Requirements Document 1999-2000. The proposed study will take place in two phases. First, there will be a detailed study of all wild mammals at risk of TB on a small number of breakdown and control farms. This phase will enable informed judgements, currently impossible due to the lack of adequately sized samples, on the likely importance of different species in the transmission of M. bovis. We will then conduct an extensive survey, on a large number of farms, of those species identified as important carriers in phase one. For rare species, such as polecats, this work will be complemented by the examination of road-kill carcasses and game bags. Our large, but focused investigation has been designed to have sufficient statistical power to address fundamental questions about TB in wildlife. In particular we aim to establish, using recent advances in diagnostic methods in combination with traditional techniques, the prevalence of M. bovis in those species at risk. Molecular typing techniques will be used to compare the strains of M. bovis identified in wildlife with those in badgers, and if possible cattle, on breakdown farms. The work will integrate with other projects on the epidemiology of M. bovis, including the production of spatially-explicit GIS based models of M. bovis transmission between species (CLUWRR-CSL). In addition to population modelling, we aim to investigate using an associative approach, the factors predisposing wildlife to TB infection, and the risk posed to cattle by infected wildlife. These twin approaches will yield information of direct relevance to the development of efficient and targeted policies for the control of M. bovis.
Overall objectives of project
1. Collect data on the ecology of potential M bovis reservoirs; and investigate the epidemiology and molecular type of TB in wildlife.

2. Quantify the risk to cattle associated with TB infection in wildlife using modelling and risk analysis.

Specific aims
1. Obtain reliable estimates of the prevalence of M. bovis in all potential reservoirs of the disease except badgers, by means of an extensive survey in a range of geographical areas. Investigate the potential importance of invertebrate vectors including ticks, fleas, earthworms and dung-beetles, and store samples for future analysis. Investigate the population dynamics of risk species at each site, and explore potential strain differences in M. bovis between species and populations.

2a. Model M. bovis dynamics within wildlife populations, and also transmission between species, utilising data on population dynamics, spatial organisation, and strain differences.

2b. Investigate the risk of TB infection in wildlife, its intensity, and prevalence using associative analyses.

2c. Analyse risk of TB infection in cattle according to the presence of disease in wildlife populations, proximity of wildlife, and other variables.

Time-Scale and Cost
From: 1999

To: 2004

Cost: £1,214,788
Contractor / Funded Organisations
University - Oxford
Animal Health              
Bovine Tuberculosis              
Plants and Animals              
Fields of Study
Animal Health