Eurasian badgers (Meles meles) are a reservoir host of Mycobacterium bovis and are implicated in the transmission of tuberculosis to cattle in Ireland and Great Britain. The development of a vaccine for use in badgers is considered a key element of any long-term sustainable campaign to eradicate the disease from livestock in both countries. The aim of this study was to investigate the protective response of badgers vaccinated orally with Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) encapsulated in a lipid formulation, followed by experimental challenge with M. bovis. A group of badgers was vaccinated by inoculating the BCG-lipid mixture containing approximately 10(8)colony forming units (cfu) of BCG into the oesophagus. The control group was sham inoculated with the lipid formulation only. Thirteen weeks after vaccination all the badgers were challenged with approximately 10(4)cfu of M. bovis delivered by endobronchial inoculation. Blood samples were taken throughout the study and the cell mediated immune (CMI) responses in peripheral blood were monitored by the IFN-gamma ELISA and ELISPOT assay. At 17 weeks after infection all the badgers were examined post-mortem to assess the pathological and bacteriological responses to challenge. All badgers in both groups were found to be infected. However, a significant protective effect of BCG vaccination was measured as a decrease in the number and severity of gross lesions, lower bacterial load in the lungs, and fewer sites of infection. The analysis of immune responses showed that vaccination with BCG did not generate any detectable CMI immunological responses, however the levels of the responses increased in both groups following M. bovis infection. The results of the study showed that vaccination with oral BCG in the lipid formulation generated a protective effect in the badgers.
University College Dublin ->