Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


British cattle give TB to badgers, finds UC Davis expert

The controversial practice of killing wild badgers to prevent tuberculosis in cattle is unlikely to succeed, according to a new study led by Rosie Woodroffe, an ecologist at the University of California, Davis, and a member of Britain's Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB.

In Britain, farming interests and badger protectionists have battled for 30 years over the merits of culling badgers to fight cattle tuberculosis, a disease which can occasionally be transmitted to people. Farming ministers are currently deciding whether culling should be continued, following a public consultation on the issue which provoked over 47,000 responses.

Woodroffe's report, published Oct. 2 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, highlights the limitations of badger culling as a control strategy for cattle TB.

Woodroffe examined the outcomes when badgers were culled as part of a seven-year experiment conducted by the British Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Conventional wisdom suggested that this should reduce transmission among badgers, as well as from badgers to cattle. Instead, after four years of culling, infection rates in badger had doubled.

"Culling disrupts badgers' territorial behavior so they travel further and interact with more other badgers; that is probably why disease spreads more rapidly," said Woodroffe, the leader of a team which also included researchers from Britain's Central Science Laboratory and Veterinary Laboratories Agency.

The biggest increases in infection rates happened in culling areas that could most easily be repopulated by badgers migrating in from neighboring land.

Today's report also provides the first evidence of widespread TB transmission from cattle to badgers. Woodroffe's team found that in 2001, when a nationwide epidemic of foot-and-mouth disease in England temporarily halted routine TB testing of cattle, infection rates in badgers doubled. At this time, infected cattle remained in their herds and the researchers suggest that this allowed them to transmit the disease to other cattle and to badgers.

"Our findings helps to explain why badger culling has had limited success as a TB control strategy," noted Woodroffe.

An earlier study by the same research team showed that badger culling reduced TB infection in cattle by just 19 percent inside the culling areas, and actually increased cattle TB on neighboring farms.

"In the past, policymakers assumed that infected badgers were the source of most cattle TB cases, and could be 'cleaned out' by culling," Woodroffe said. "But our results show not only that culling can increase TB in badger populations, but also that cattle themselves play an important role in maintaining the infection."

Sylvia Wright | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Forest Management Yields Higher Productivity through Biodiversity
14.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Farming with forests
23.09.2016 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES)

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>