Coccidiosis in the European badger (Meles meles) from England, an epidemiological study.
Anwar MA., Newman C., MacDonald DW., Woolhouse ME., Kelly DW.
In total 445 faecal samples were collected from 259 European badgers (Meles meles) in Wytham Woods, Oxfordshire, UK (462080). Microscopical examination revealed infection with 2 species of coccidia Eimeria melis and Isospora melis. From the initial examination of each animal, point prevalence rates of 0.44 and 0.35 were calculated for Eimeria and Isospora respectively. The intensity of infection was significantly greater for Eimeria than Isopora and the distribution of intensities was highly skewed for both species, with a few individuals shedding the majority of oocysts. Incidence and recovery rates for both coccidia species were calculated from longitudinal data collected at 3-monthly intervals from a subset of the adult badger population, and the predicted prevalence rates based on these were similar to the point prevalence rates. This suggests little, if any, parasite-induced mortality in the adult population. In contrast, there was a marked and significant reduction in the point prevalence and intensity of infection with Eimeria from cub to adult badger suggesting a degree of acquired immunity to Eimeria melis on initial exposure and/or that there is significant Eimeria-associated mortality in the cub population. No such relationship was found for Isospora infection. In those adult badgers with co-infections there was a direct relationship between the intensity of Eimeria and Isospora. The taxonomic status of these parasites suggests a heteroxenous life-cycle for I. melis, and direct transmission of E. melis. However, the greater than expected prevalence of co-infection is consistent with a common source of infection, such as communal latrines.