Now showing 1 - 4 of 4
  • Publication
    The role of badgers in the epidemiology of Mycobacterium bovis infection (tuberculosis) in cattle in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland: current perspectives on control strategies
    Bovine tuberculosis (TB) caused by infection with Mycobacterium bovis, is a persistent problem in cattle herds in Ireland and the United Kingdom, resulting in hardship for affected farmers and substantial ongoing national exchequer expenditure. There is irrefutable scientific evidence that badgers are a reservoir of M. bovis infection and are implicated in the transmission of infection to cattle. A range of options for the control of TB in badgers is currently available or under development including culling of badgers, vaccination of badgers and cattle, and improved biosecurity to limit contact between the two species. It is unlikely that the eradication of TB from cattle will be achieved without the reservoir of M. bovis infection in badgers being controlled. The chances of success will, however, improve with greater knowledge of the disease in both species and an understanding of the epidemiological drivers of the transmission of infection between badgers and cattle.
  • Publication
    Population estimation and trappability of the European badger (Meles meles): implications for tuberculosis management
    Estimates of population size and trappability inform vaccine efficacy modelling and are required for adaptive management during prolonged wildlife vaccination campaigns. We present an analysis of mark-recapture data from a badger vaccine (Bacille Calmette-Guérin) study in Ireland. This study is the largest scale (755 km²) mark-recapture study ever undertaken with this species. The study area was divided into three approximately equal-sized zones, each with similar survey and capture effort. A mean badger population size of 671 (SD: 76) was estimated using a closed-subpopulation model (CSpM) based on data from capturing sessions of the entire area and was consistent with a separate multiplicative model. Minimum number alive estimates calculated from the same data were on average 49-51% smaller than the CSpM estimates, but these are considered severely negatively biased when trappability is low. Population densities derived from the CSpM estimates were 0.82-1.06 badgers kmˉ², and broadly consistent with previous reports for an adjacent area. Mean trappability was estimated to be 34-35% per session across the population. By the fifth capture session, 79% of the adult badgers caught had been marked previously. Multivariable modelling suggested significant differences in badger trappability depending on zone, season and age-class. There were more putatively trap-wary badgers identified in the population than trap-happy badgers, but wariness was not related to individual's sex, zone or season of capture. Live-trapping efficacy can vary significantly amongst sites, seasons, age, or personality, hence monitoring of trappability is recommended as part of an adaptive management regime during large-scale wildlife vaccination programs to counter biases and to improve efficiencies.
      345Scopus© Citations 39
  • Publication
    Optimising and evaluating the characteristics of a multiple antigen ELISA for detection of Mycobacterium bovis infection in a badger vaccine trial
    A long-term research programme has been underway in Ireland to evaluate the usefulness of badger vaccination as part of the national bTB (bovine tuberculosis) control strategy. This culminated in a field trial which commenced in county Kilkenny in 2009 to determine the effects of badger vaccination on Mycobacterium bovis transmission in badgers under field conditions. In the present study, we sought to optimise the characteristics of a multiplex chemiluminescent assay for detection of M. bovis infection in live badgers. Our goal was to maximise specificity, and therefore statistical power, during evaluation of the badger vaccine trial data. In addition, we also aimed to explore the effects of vaccination on test characteristics. For the test optimisation, we ran a stepwise logistic regression with analytical weights on the converted Relative Light Units (RLU) obtained from testing blood samples from 215 badgers captured as part of culling operations by the national Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM). The optimised test was applied to two other datasets obtained from two captive badger studies (Study 1 and Study 2), and the sensitivity and specificity of the test was attained separately for vaccinated and non-vaccinated badgers. During optimisation, test sensitivity was maximised (30.77%), while retaining specificity at 99.99%. When the optimised test was then applied to the captive badger studies data, we observed that test characteristics did not vary greatly between vaccinated and non-vaccinated badgers. However, a different time lag between infection and a positive test result was observed in vaccinated and non-vaccinated badgers. We propose that the optimized multiplex immunoassay be used to analyse the vaccine trial data. In relation to the difference in the time lag observed for vaccinated and non-vaccinated badgers, we also present a strategy to enable the test to be used during trial evaluation.
      228Scopus© Citations 9