The aim of the study was to describe, over a period of 24 weeks, the pathological and bacteriological changes in badgers experimentally infected with Mycobacterium bovis. The badgers were infected by endobronchial instillation of 2.5 x10(4) colony forming units (cfu) M. bovis. After infection, the badgers were examined at 3 weekly intervals when blood and tracheal aspirates were collected. At 6, 12, 18 and 24 weeks post-infection (pi) three animals were euthanized and a detailed pathological and bacteriological examination was performed to assess the nature of the experimental disease. During the course of the study only one badger developed clinical signs of disease: a subcutaneous swelling on its head, first observed at 18 weeks pi. At post-mortem examination gross and histological lesions of tuberculosis were observed and M. bovis was recovered from all, except one badger. In the majority of badgers the endobronchial route of inoculation resulted in the establishment of infection that over 24 weeks was non-progressive with limited dissemination of infection from the thoracic cavity, mainly to the hepatic and mesenteric lymph nodes. However, in one of the badgers examined at 18 weeks pi and one at 24 weeks pi, infection was widely disseminated. The disease induced by the endobronchial inoculation displayed the characteristics of disease observed in naturally infected badgers.
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