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Free Content A national survey of human Mycobacterium bovis infection in France

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OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the role of Mycobacterium bovis in the epidemiology of human tuberculosis in France.

DESIGN: A national survey in France in 1995 using a questionnaire mailed to all French microbiological laboratories performing mycobacteria cultures.

RESULTS: M. bovis was isolated in 38 out of 7075 cases of bacteriologically confirmed tuberculosis (0.5%) notified to the National Reference Centre (CNR) in 1995, resulting in an incidence of 0.07 per 100000 population. Incidence rates increased with age, and were the highest among patients of 75 years or more (range 0.02–0.33/100000). Two cases of tuberculosis due to M. bovis were reported in foreign-born children who had come to France for treatment of their disease. No cases were reported among French-born children. The site of tuberculosis was pulmonary in 17 cases, extra-pulmonary in 14, both pulmonary and extra-pulmonary in one, and unknown in six. Extra-pulmonary sites were more frequent in older patients, and pulmonary sites more frequent in younger patients. Two patients were coinfected with the human immunodeficiency virus. Occupational exposure was identified in 13 cases and ingestion of non pasteurised milk in three. In addition, 11 patients had a possible risk of exposure related to their country of birth, family contact or occupation.

CONCLUSION: In France, the 0.5% proportion of human tuberculosis due to M. bovis is similar to that of other developed countries. The higher incidence of the disease among older people is likely to reflect the efficacy of the control measures for tuberculosis in cattle.

Keywords: Mycobacterium bovis; human; tuberculosis

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: National Reference Center (NRC) for Surveillance of Mycobacterial Diseases and Drug Resistance, Laboratoire de Bactériologie et Hygiène, Groupe Hospitalier Pitié-Salpêtrière, Paris, France 2: National Reference Center for Mycobacteria (NRCM), Institut Pasteur, Paris, France

Publication date: August 1, 1999

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  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on tuberculosis and lung health world-wide.

    Certain IJTLD articles are selected for translation into French, Spanish, Chinese or Russian. They are available on the Union website

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