The safety and immunogenicity of Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine in European badgers (Meles meles)

S. Lesellier, S. Palmer, D. J. Dalley, D. Davé, L. Johnson, R. G. Hewinson, M. A. Chambers*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Citations (SciVal)


European badgers (Meles meles) are a wildlife reservoir for Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis) in Great Britain (GB) and the Republic of Ireland and therefore constitute a potential source of infection for cattle. Reduction of badger densities in the Republic of Ireland has resulted in an associated reduction in the risk of a herd break-down with bovine tuberculosis and a study to determine whether this is also the case in GB has been running since 1997. If badgers are a significant source of M. bovis infection for cattle, vaccinating badgers with Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) might prove to be a long term, cost-effective strategy for controlling bovine tuberculosis whilst preserving badger populations. As a first step towards BCG vaccination of wild badgers, it was necessary to demonstrate safety of the vaccine in captive badgers. Therefore, captive badgers were vaccinated with a commercial source of BCG that is already licensed for administration to humans in GB-BCG Danish SSI. Using a protocol prescribed by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) of GB, badgers were vaccinated with two consecutive doses of BCG via either the subcutaneous (s.c.) or intra-muscular (i.m.) routes. The first dose was high, ranging from 16 to 22 × 107 colony-forming units (CFU), and was followed 15 weeks later by a lower dose in the range of 4-7 × 105 CFU. Local reaction at the site of injection and general responses (body temperature, haematology and blood serum chemistry), behaviour and excretion of BCG were monitored for 28 weeks from the time of the first vaccination. The only side-effect observed was the occurrence of localised swelling at the site of BCG injection that disappeared 48 days after i.m. vaccination but persisted longer in the group vaccinated by the s.c. route. Immunological responses were measured at regular intervals. Strong cellular responses were observed 13 days after the first vaccination, which persisted for 76 days. The lower dose induced a weaker and shorter-lived response. Crown

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-37
Number of pages14
JournalVeterinary Immunology and Immunopathology
Issue number1-2
Early online date09 May 2006
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2006


  • Badger
  • BCG
  • Immunity
  • Safety
  • Vaccination


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