Trait-Based Vaccination of Individual Meerkats (Suricata suricatta) against Tuberculosis Provides Evidence to Support Targeted Disease Control.
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Patterson, S. J., Clutton-Brock, T., Pfeiffer, D. U., & Drewe, J. A. (2022). Trait-Based Vaccination of Individual Meerkats (Suricata suricatta) against Tuberculosis Provides Evidence to Support Targeted Disease Control.. Animals (Basel), 12 (2) https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12020192
Individuals vary in their potential to acquire and transmit infections, but this fact is currently underexploited in disease control strategies. We trialled a trait-based vaccination strategy to reduce tuberculosis in free-living meerkats by targeting high-contact meerkats (socially dominant individuals) in one study arm, and high-susceptibility individuals (young subordinates) in a second arm. We monitored infection within vaccinated groups over two years comparing the results with untreated control groups. Being a member of a high-contact group had a protective effect on individuals' survival times (Hazard Ratio = 0.5, 95% Confidence Interval, CI: 0.29-0.88, p = 0.02) compared to control groups. Over the study, odds of testing positive for tuberculosis increased more than five-fold in control groups (Odds Ratio = 5.40, 95% CI = 0.94-30.98, p = 0.058); however, no increases were observed in either of the treatment arms. Targeted disease control approaches, such as the one described in this study, allow for reduced numbers of interventions. Here, trait-based vaccination was associated with reduced infection rates and thus has the potential to offer more efficient alternatives to traditional mass-vaccination policies. Such improvements in efficiency warrant further study and could make infectious disease control more practically achievable in both animal (particularly wildlife) and human populations.
targeted disease control, meerkats, trait-based vaccination, wildlife disease
European Research Council (294494)
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12020192
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/333096