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Evaluation of the Cepheid Xpert MTB/RIF assay for the diagnosis of TB in badgers - SE3282

Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) continues to represent a major animal health problem in Great Britain, with more than 25,000 cattle slaughtered in 2009 as a result of positive diagnosis. Badgers act as a wildlife reservoir of the causative agent of bTB, Mycobacterium bovis, and are implicated in the transmission of disease to cattle. Experience from Great Britain and elsewhere demonstrates that the elimination of disease in domestic livestock may prove problematic where such a wildlife reservoir of infection exists. Consequently, the control of infection in badger populations in regions of high cattle bTB incidence is a priority.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has emphasised the need to identify practical tools with which to detect TB infection in free-living badgers, at both the individual and group levels. The diagnosis of TB in live badgers represents a considerable scientific and methodological challenge, and to date no technique has been identified which can be applied to a cage-trapped wild animal without the need for anaesthesia. Such techniques would potentially permit the application of a “trap-side” testing approach, thus facilitating a broader range of management options than are currently available for the sustainable control of TB infection in badgers and cattle. The work proposed in the current project will evaluate the use of a recently developed automated nucleic acid amplification (PCR) based diagnostic system for the presence of M. bovis DNA in urine, faeces and blood. This research will benefit from a complementary project submission from AHVLA, which investigates approaches to obtaining these samples from live animals without the need for anaesthesia.
1. Validation of Reagent SR for killing M. bovis (by 03/07/2012)

2. Determination of the limit of detection for the Xpert MTB/RIF system using blood, urine and faecal samples collected from non-tuberculous badgers during vaccine efficacy studies at AHVLA and spiked with M. bovis at known concentrations (by 18/10/2012)

3. Evaluation of the Xpert MTB/RIF system using blood, urine and faecal samples collected from captive badgers experimentally infected with M. bovis during vaccine efficacy studies at AHVLA (by 29/03/2013)
Project Documents
• EVID4 - Final project report : SE3282   (375k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2012

To: 2013

Cost: £59,403
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA)
Animal Diseases              
Animal Health              
Plants and Animals              
Fields of Study
Animal Health