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Bovine tuberculosis and badgers in Britain: relevance of the past

  • P. J. ATKINS (a1) and P. A. ROBINSON (a1)

Summary

The European badger (Meles meles) has been identified as a wildlife reservoir of bovine tuberculosis and a source of transmission to cattle in Britain and Ireland. Both behavioural ecology and statistical ecological modelling have indicated the long-term persistence of the disease in some badger communities, and this is postulated to account for the high incidence of bovine tuberculosis in cattle across large tracts of England and Wales. This paper questions this consensus by using historical cartographic evidence to show that tuberculosis in cattle had a very different spatial distribution before 1960 to the present day. Since few of the badgers collected in road traffic accidents between 1972 and 1990 had tuberculosis in counties such as Cheshire, where the disease had until shortly before that been rife in the cattle population, the role of badgers as reservoirs in spreading disease in similar counties outside the south-west of England has to be questioned.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

*Author for correspondence: Professor P. J. Atkins, Department of Geography, University of Durham, Durham DH1 3LE, UK. (Email: p.j.atkins@durham.ac.uk)

References

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Keywords

Bovine tuberculosis and badgers in Britain: relevance of the past

  • P. J. ATKINS (a1) and P. A. ROBINSON (a1)

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