Bovine tuberculosis (TB) is a disease characterised by progressive development of specific granulomatous le-sions or tubercles in lung tissue, lymph nodes or other organs. Mycobacterium bovis is the causative agent of the disease. Bovine species, including bison and buffaloes, are susceptible to the disease, but nearly all warm-blooded animals can be affected. All species are not equally susceptible to the disease; some are spill-over (end) hosts and others maintenance hosts. In Africa, bovine TB primarily affects cattle; however, infection in other farm and domestic animals, such as sheep, goats, pigs, dogs and cats, is not uncommon. Wild ruminants and carnivores are also affected and are the natural reservoirs of the infectious agent in the wild. Man is also susceptible to the disease, the highest risk groups being individuals with concomitant HIV/AIDS infection. In Africa, human TB is widely known to be caused by M. tuberculosis; however, an unknown proportion of cases are due to M. bovis. This infection in humans is underreported as a result of the diagnostic limitations of many laboratories in distinguishing M. bovis from M. tuberculosis. None of the national reports submitted to the OIE and WHO by African member states mention the importance of M. bovis in human TB cases. Consumption of unpasteurised milk and poorly heat-treated meat and close contact with infected animals represent the main sources of infection for humans. This review attempts to examine the impact of bovine TB on the health of animals and humans.
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Document Type: Review Article
Department of Food and Feed Safety, Veterinary Research Institute, Brno, Czech Republic
Agriculture, Food and Environmental Science, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
Department of Public Health and Epidemiology, Swiss Tropical Institute, Basel, Switzerland
August 1, 2004
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