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How bovine TB is transmitted from possums to cattle

Possums are the main source of TB infection in farmed cattle and deer herds in New Zealand. Around half of all new herd infections are due to contact with TB-infected wild animals.

The first TB-infected possum was found in1967, but the link between possums and cattle was not proved until 1971. Initially, the route of transmission was thought to be via TB pus on pasture but it was later shown that direct contact was needed. As this video shows, cows are capable of contact with possums. When possums are suffering from advanced TB, their behaviour becomes extremely erratic and the will often venture out in daylight and on to pasture land. Naturally inquisitive, cows will nuzzle lethargic possums and potentially become infected.

 


Copyright [2012] by OSPRI
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