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Free Content Human tuberculosis caused by Mycobacterium bovis in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean [Serialised article. Tuberculosis: a re-emerging disease in animals and humans. Number 3 in the series]

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Human tuberculosis (TB) caused by Mycobacterium bovis appears to be rare in most of the region of the Americas, although some localities have reported an unusually high prevalence of M. bovis among human TB cases (e.g., San Diego, CA, USA; parts of Mexico). As surveillance data are lacking in many countries, there is substantial uncertainty regarding actual incidence. M. bovis is most often not identified, as the diagnosis of TB is made by smear microscopy alone or using egg-containing culture media lacking pyruvate. Where human M. bovis cases have been studied in the region, they appear to be associated with ingestion of unpasteurized dairy products, or with airborne acquired infection in animal keepers and meat industry workers from countries where bovine TB remains a problem. Human-to-human transmission of M. bovis does occur, but appears to account for a very small proportion of cases. Efforts to eradicate M. bovis in humans in the Americas should therefore be directed at eradicating the disease in cattle, increasing pasteurization of dairy products and providing education about the dangers of consuming unpasteurized dairy products.
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Keywords: M. bovis; humans; tuberculosis

Document Type: Invited Paper

Affiliations: 1: World Health Organization TB Consultants Group, Buenos Aires, Argentina 2: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA 3: Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, USA

Publication date: 2010-11-01

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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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