• • • European badgers’ gut bacteria may be powerful ally in bovine TB fight
Morris Animal Foundation-funded researchers look at novel ways to reduce TB spillover from European badgers to cattle in midst of ongoing outbreak. New research funded by the Morris Animal Foundation is shedding light on how gut bacteria may help protect both badgers and cattle from this common, pervasive and deadly illness.
A major outbreak of bovine TB has significantly affected agriculture in the U.K. for a number of years. Badgers are known carriers of Mycobacterium bovis, the bacteria that causes bovine TB, and are suspected to be a source of the disease’s spread. Use of the human TB vaccine, Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG), in badgers was considered to be a humane and long-term solution to reduce TB spillover from badgers but was falling short on effectiveness, the Morris Animal Foundation said.
The team, along with collaborators at the U.K.’s Animal & Plant Health Agency, found that gut bacteria from badgers may be decreasing the effectiveness of the BCG vaccine but, at the same time, may be killing off M. bovis. It’s a bad news/good news scenario that may help improve TB prevention, the researchers said.