Geographical association between the genotype of bovine tuberculosis in found dead badgers and in cattle herds

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In a survey, 457 badgers that had been found dead in Wales were postmortem-examined, and samples were examined by histology and by extended culture (for up to 12 weeks). Mycobacterium bovis was cultured from 55 badgers (12.0 per cent), and the histology typical of M bovis infection was seen in a further six (1.3 per cent). The prevalence in badgers in each of 10 geographical areas varied between 0 and 26 per cent (P<0.001), and was associated with the incidence of confirmed M bovis infection in cattle herds in the same areas (P<0.01). In northern Wales, bTB was rare in both hosts. An infected badger was 12.3 times more likely to be within 5 km of a confirmed cattle bTB breakdown than an uninfected badger. The M bovis isolates from badgers belonged to one of four genotypes defined by spoligotype and variable number tandem repeat type. These genotypes were also found in 290 concurrent confirmed herd breakdowns, and tended to be similar to the genotypes in badgers in the same geographical areas. When badgers and cattle no more than 30 km apart were compared, the genotype diversity was greater in cattle than in badgers (P=0.016), suggesting that the movement of cattle plays a greater part in the spatial distribution of M bovis than the movement of badgers.

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