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      Bovine Tuberculosis in Britain and Ireland – A Perfect Storm? the Confluence of Potential Ecological and Epidemiological Impediments to Controlling a Chronic Infectious Disease


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          Successful eradication schemes for bovine tuberculosis (bTB) have been implemented in a number of European and other countries over the last 50 years. However, the islands of Britain and Ireland remain a significant aberration to this trend, with the recent exception of Scotland. Why have eradication schemes failed within these countries, while apparently similar programs have been successful elsewhere? While significant socio-economic and political factors have been discussed elsewhere as key determinants of disease eradication, here we review some of the potential ecological and epidemiological constraints that are present in these islands relative to other parts of Europe. We argue that the convergence of these potential factors may interact additively to diminish the potential of the present control programs to achieve eradication. Issues identified include heterogeneity of diagnostic testing approaches, the presence of an abundant wildlife reservoir of infection and the challenge of sustainably managing this risk effectively; the nature, size, density and network structure of cattle farming; potential effects of Mycobacterium bovis strain heterogeneity on disease transmission dynamics; possible impacts of concurrent endemic infections on the disclosure of truly infected animals; climatological differences and change coupled with environmental contamination. We further argue that control and eradication of this complex disease may benefit from an ecosystem level approach to management. We hope that this perspective can stimulate a new conversation about the many factors potentially impacting bTB eradication schemes in Britain and Ireland and possibly stimulate new research in the areas identified.

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          Global phylogeography of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and implications for tuberculosis product development.

          New tools for controlling tuberculosis are urgently needed. Despite our emerging understanding of the biogeography of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the implications for development of new diagnostics, drugs, and vaccines is unknown. M tuberculosis has a clonal genetic population structure that is geographically constrained. Evidence suggests strain-specific differences in virulence and immunogenicity in light of this global phylogeography. We propose a strain selection framework, based on robust phylogenetic markers, which will allow for systematic and comprehensive evaluation of new tools for tuberculosis control.
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              Off the hook--how bacteria survive protozoan grazing.

              Bacterial growth and survival in numerous environments are constrained by the action of bacteria-consuming protozoa. Recent findings suggest that bacterial adaptations against protozoan predation might have a significant role in bacterial persistence and diversification. We argue that selective predation has given rise to diverse routes of bacterial defense, including adaptive mechanisms in bacterial biofilms, and has promoted major transitions in bacterial evolution, such as multicellularity and pathogenesis. We propose that studying predation-driven adaptations will provide an exciting frontier for microbial ecology and evolution at the interface of prokaryotes and eukaryotes.

                Author and article information

                Front Vet Sci
                Front Vet Sci
                Front. Vet. Sci.
                Frontiers in Veterinary Science
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                05 June 2018
                : 5
                : 109
                Veterinary Science Division, Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute , Belfast, United Kingdom
                Author notes

                Edited by: Julio Alvarez, VISAVET Health Surveillance Centre (UCM), Spain

                Reviewed by: Douwe Bakker, Independent researcher, Lelystad, Netherlands; Maria Laura Boschiroli, Agence Nationale de Sécurité Sanitaire de l’Alimentation, de l’Environnement et du Travail (ANSES), France

                Specialty section: This article was submitted to Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics, a section of the journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science


                These authors have contributed equally to this work

                Copyright © 2018 Allen, Skuce and Byrne

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                : 05 February 2018
                : 03 May 2018
                Page count
                Figures: 0, Tables: 0, Equations: 0, References: 228, Pages: 17, Words: 16279
                Funded by: Department of Agriculture and Rural Development 10.13039/100009748
                Veterinary Science
                Hypothesis and Theory

                mycobacterium bovis,britain and ireland,eradication,persistence,epidemiology


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