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Soil Types and TB - Research into the effects of soil type and geology on bTB


Badger Trust


There is evidence that infectious diseases in cattle can be related to soil-type and geology.

For example, a link between soil type and geology has been found with paratuberculosis, a similar organism to bovine TB. Paratuberculosis is disease of cattle caused by M. paratuberculosis and it gives rise to Johne's Disease in cattle. The disease has been found to persist in regions with acid soils, but not with alkaline, calcareous soils. In particular, research in the south-west of England, where bovine TB can be found in cattle, reported that paratuberculosis was only found in areas containing acid soil.

The prevalence of other diseases is also related to soil-type. For example, anthrax in cattle has been associated with calcareous soils, especially in poorly drained areas.

Despite this evidence, the UK Government is still not properly and rigorously investigating soil type and geology. The only attempt to do so, is through a limited question on the TB99 form, which only gives a choice of six soil options, and does not record the important pH factor which influences the survival of pathogens in the soil.

The effect of soil-type, topography and geology should be investigated fully in attempting to understand the epidemiology of TB in badgers and cattle. The new epidemiological questionnaire (TB99) is insufficient for this purpose.

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