An ecological and comparative perspective on the control of bovine tuberculosis in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland

O’Connor, C.M., Haydon, D.T. and Kao, R.R. (2012) An ecological and comparative perspective on the control of bovine tuberculosis in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland. Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 104(3-4), pp. 185-197. (doi: 10.1016/j.prevetmed.2011.11.010)

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Disease ecology involves a systematic approach to understanding the interactions and evolution of host-pathogen systems at the population level, and is essential for developing a comprehensive understanding of the reasons for disease persistence and the most likely means of control. This systems or ecological approach is being increasingly recognised as a progressive method in disease control and is exploited in diverse fields ranging from obesity management in humans to the prevention of infectious disease in animal populations. In this review we discuss bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in Great Britain (GB) within a disease ecology context, and suggest how a comparative ecological perspective helps to reconcile apparent conflicts with the evidence on the effectiveness of badger culling to assist in the control of bTB in GB and the Republic of Ireland (ROI). Our examination shows that failure of past measures to control bTB and the disparity in outcomes of badger culling experiments are the result of a complex relationship amongst the agent, host and environment, i.e. the episystem, of bTB. Here, we stress the role of distinctive bTB episystems and badger culling trial design in the ambiguity and resulting controversy associated with badger culling in GB and ROI. We argue this episystem perspective on bTB control measures in cattle and badger populations provides a useful and informative perspective on the design and implementation of future bTB management in GB, particularly at a time when both scientific and lay communities are concerned about the ongoing epidemic, the cost of current control measures and the execution of future control procedures.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Haydon, Professor Daniel and Kao, Professor Rowland
Authors: O’Connor, C.M., Haydon, D.T., and Kao, R.R.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Preventive Veterinary Medicine
ISSN (Online):1873-1716
Published Online:21 December 2011

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