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Importance and mitigation of the risk of spillback transmission of Mycobacterium bovis infection for eradication of bovine tuberculosis from wildlife in New Zealand

  • M. C. BARRON (a1), G. NUGENT (a1) and M. L. CROSS (a1)

Summary

Introduced brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) are wildlife maintenance hosts for Mycobacterium bovis in New Zealand, often living sympatrically with other potential hosts, including wild red deer (Cervus elaphus scoticus). Population control of possums has been predicted to eradicate tuberculosis (TB) from New Zealand wildlife; however, there is concern that long-lived M. bovis-infected deer could represent a ‘spillback’ risk for TB re-establishment (particularly when possum populations recover after cessation of intensive control). We constructed a time-, age- and sex-structured, deer/TB population generic model and simulated the outcomes of deer control on this potential spillback risk. Maintaining intensive possum control on a 5-year cycle, the predicted spillback risk period after TB eradication from possums is ∼7 years, while the probability of TB re-establishing in possums over that period is ∼6%. Additional targeted control of deer would reduce the risk period and probability of spillback; however, even with high population reductions (up to 80%) only modest decreases in risk and risk period would be achieved. We conclude that possum control alone remains the best strategy for achieving TB eradication from New Zealand habitats in which possums and wild deer are the main M. bovis hosts.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

*Author for correspondence: Dr M. C. Barron, Landcare Research, PO Box 40, Lincoln 7640, New Zealand. (Email: barronm@landcareresearch.co.nz)

References

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Importance and mitigation of the risk of spillback transmission of Mycobacterium bovis infection for eradication of bovine tuberculosis from wildlife in New Zealand

  • M. C. BARRON (a1), G. NUGENT (a1) and M. L. CROSS (a1)

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