Disease Ecology

No touching, please

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Science  23 Sep 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6306, pp. 1378
DOI: 10.1126/science.353.6306.1378-a

European badgers have been blamed for the transmission of bovine tuberculosis in the United Kingdom and, despite much evidence to the contrary, have endured regular and repeated culling efforts based on the assumption that their lethal removal decreases the spread of the disease. Woodroffe et al. used GPS and contact collars to record the degree to which badgers and cattle actually come into contact. Despite finding that badgers prefer to spend their time in pastures, they recorded no direct contact between the two species, with badgers tending to say at least 50 m from cattle. Thus, any transmission between these two species seems to be environmentally mediated, a result that could be instrumental in targeting nonlethal ways to prevent the spread of the disease.

Ecol. Lett. 10.1111/ele.12654 (2016).

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