TitleDisease Control in Wildlife: Evaluating a Test and Cull Programme for Bovine Tuberculosis in African Buffalo.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
Authorsle Roex, N, Cooper, D, van Helden, PD, Hoal, EG, Jolles, AE
JournalTransbound Emerg Dis
Date Published2016 Dec
KeywordsAnimals, Animals, Wild, Buffaloes, Cattle, Livestock, Mycobacterium bovis, Prevalence, Program Evaluation, South Africa, Tuberculosis, Bovine

Providing an evidence base for wildlife population management is difficult, due to limited opportunities for experimentation and study replication at the population level. We utilized an opportunity to assess the outcome of a test and cull programme aimed at limiting the spread of Mycobacterium bovis in African buffalo. Buffalo act as reservoirs of M. bovis, the causative agent of bovine tuberculosis (BTB), which can have major economic, ecological and public health impacts through the risk of infection to other wildlife species, livestock and surrounding communities. BTB prevalence data were collected in conjunction with disease control operations in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, South Africa, from 1999 to 2006. A total of 4733 buffalo (250-950 per year) were tested for BTB using the single comparative intradermal tuberculin (SCIT) test, with BTB-positive animals culled, and negative animals released. BTB prevalence was spatially and temporally variable, ranging from 2.3% to 54.7%. Geographic area was a strong predictor of BTB transmission in HiP, owing to relatively stable herds and home ranges. Herds experiencing more intensive and frequent captures showed reduced per capita disease transmission risk and less increase in herd prevalence over time. Disease hot spots did not expand spatially over time, and BTB prevalence in all but the hot spot areas was maintained between 10% and 15% throughout the study period. Our data suggest that HiP's test and cull programme was effective at reducing BTB transmission in buffalo, with capture effort and interval found to be the crucial components of the programme. The programme was thus successful with respect to the original goals; however, there are additional factors that should be considered in future cost/benefit analyses and decision-making. These findings may be utilized and expanded in future collaborative work between wildlife managers, veterinarians and scientists, to optimize wildlife disease control programmes and mitigate conflict at the interface of conservation, agricultural and urban areas.

Alternate JournalTransbound Emerg Dis
PubMed ID25620619