Interspecific visitation of cattle and badgers to fomites: A transmission risk for bovine tuberculosis?

Emma L. Campbell, Andrew W. Byrne, Fraser Menzies, Kathryn R. McBride, Carl M. McCormick, David Scantlebury, Neil Reid

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11 Citations (Scopus)
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In Great Britain and Ireland, badgers (Meles meles) are a wildlife reservoir of Mycobacterium bovis and implicated in bovine tuberculosis transmission to domestic cattle. The route of disease transmission is unknown with direct, so‐called “nose‐to‐nose,” contact between hosts being extremely rare. Camera traps were deployed for 64,464 hr on 34 farms to quantify cattle and badger visitation rates in space and time at six farm locations. Badger presence never coincided with cattle presence at the same time, with badger and cattle detection at the same location but at different times being negatively correlated. Badgers were never recorded within farmyards during the present study. Badgers utilized cattle water troughs in fields, but detections were infrequent (equivalent to one badger observed drinking every 87 days). Cattle presence at badger‐associated locations, for example, setts and latrines, were three times more frequent than badger presence at cattle‐associated locations, for example, water troughs. Preventing cattle access to badger setts and latrines and restricting badger access to cattle water troughs may potentially reduce interspecific bTB transmission through reduced indirect contact.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8479-8489
Number of pages11
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 09 Jul 2019


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