Wildlife Disease and Zoonotics


Date of this Version



Published in Epidemiol. Infect. (1999), 122, 505-519.


The Australian brushtail possum is the major source of infection for new cases of bovine tuberculosis in cattle in New Zealand. Using hypothetical values for the cost of putative cattle and possum Tb vaccines, the relative efforts required to eradicate Tb in cattle using possum culling, possum vaccination or cattle vaccination are compared. For realistic assumed costs for 1080 poison bait, possum culling is found to be a cost-effective strategy compared to cattle vaccination if the required control area is below 13 ha per cattle herd, while possum vaccination is cost-effective for control areas of less than 3 ha per herd. Examination of other considerations such as the possible roles of possum migration and heterogeneities in possum population density suggest that each control strategy may be superior under different field conditions. Finally, the roles of the possum in New Zealand, and the Eurasian badger in Great Britain and Ireland in the transmission of bovine tuberculosis to cattle are compared.