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Bovine tuberculosis and badgers in Britain: relevance of the past

Atkins, P.J.; Robinson, P.A.

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P.J. Atkins

P.A. Robinson


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.


Atkins, P., & Robinson, P. (2013). Bovine tuberculosis and badgers in Britain: relevance of the past. Epidemiology and Infection, 141(Special issue 7), 1437-1444.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jul 1, 2013
Deposit Date Feb 4, 2013
Publicly Available Date May 8, 2013
Journal Epidemiology and infection.
Print ISSN 0950-2688
Electronic ISSN 1469-4409
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 141
Issue Special issue 7
Pages 1437-1444
Keywords Badgers, Bovine tuberculosis, Britain, Wildlife reservoirs.


Accepted Journal Article (647 Kb)

Copyright Statement
© Copyright Cambridge University Press 2013. This paper has been published in a revised form subsequent to editorial input by Cambridge University Press in 'Epidemiology and infection' (141 (Special issue 7) (2013) 1437-1444)

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