, Volume 59, Issue 3, pp 331-339
Date: 14 Nov 2012

Bovine tuberculosis in “Eurasian” badgers (Meles meles) in France

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In France, several surveillance programmes have been carried out to monitor the presence of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in badgers in regions where cattle or wildlife show high bTB prevalence (Seine-Maritime, Côte d’Or, Dordogne/Charente). Diagnostic methods include post-mortem examination, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and/or microbiological culture. The frequency of visible lesions was significantly higher in Dordogne/Charente (14/283, 4.9 %) than in Côte d’Or (19/1146, 1.7 %) and Seine-Maritime (2/160, 1.25 %) (Fisher’s exact test, p < 0.001). Lesions were mainly located in cephalic and thoracic lymph nodes with one badger showing generalised tuberculosis. Near infected cattle farms or pastures, Mycobacterium bovis was detected using the culture method in roughly 1 % (1/103) of the badgers sampled in Seine-Maritime and in 5.6 % (49/878) of the badgers sampled in Côte d’Or. In Dordogne/Charente, the prevalence determined by PCR was 13.3 % (29/218). M. bovis was not found in badgers trapped in areas where there are no infected cattle. Spoligotyping and multiple locus variable number tandem repeat analysis showed that all M. bovis strains isolated from badgers were of the same genotype as those isolated from cattle in the vicinity, demonstrating an epidemiological link between both species. These are the first cases of bTB in badgers reported in France. Further surveys and research are needed to investigate the role badgers play in the epidemiology of bTB.

Communicated by C. Gortazar