Oral vaccination of badgers (Meles meles) with BCG and protective immunity against endobronchial challenge with Mycobacterium bovis

Leigh A.L. Corner, Eamon Costello, Damien O'Meara, Sandrine Lesellier, Frank E. Aldwell, Mahavir Singh, R. Glyn Hewinson, Mark A. Chambers, Eamonn Gormley*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Citations (SciVal)


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 108colony 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 104cfu 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-γ 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6265-6272
Number of pages8
Issue number38
Early online date15 Jul 2010
Publication statusPublished - 01 Aug 2010


  • Badgers
  • Oral BCG
  • Tuberculosis
  • Vaccine


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