Tuberculosis: a re-emerging disease in animals and humans

Vet Ital. Jan-Mar 2009;45(1):135-81.


Tuberculosis continues to be an important disease both in humans and animals. It causes morbidity, mortality and economic loss worldwide. The occurrence of Mycobacterium bovis disease in humans, domesticated and wild animals confirms the relevance of this zoonosis. M. bovis in humans continues to be reported in industrialised countries and in immigrants from regions of the world where tuberculosis in cattle is endemic. The real incidence of M. bovis in humans in developing countries continues to be roughly under-estimated due to the scarcity of appropriate laboratory facilities to isolate and to differentiate M. bovis strains. In Latin America, less than 1% of tuberculosis cases are reported as being due to M. bovis. However, the economic relevance that meat and dairy industries play in these countries stimulates the promotion of bovine tuberculosis eradication programmes. Human-to-human airborne transmission of M. bovis does occur and it may be important where human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in humans is prevalent, M. bovis infection in cattle is enzootic and pasteurisation of dairy products is not routinely practised. Eradication of M. bovis in cattle and pasteurisation of dairy products are the cornerstones of prevention of human disease. Measures should be developed to identify and control M. bovis infection in wild animals as these may be important reservoirs of infection for domesticated food-producing animals. There is a need for medical and veterinary professionals to cooperate on disease outbreaks. The information presented herein strongly supports the 'One World/One Health/One Medicine' concept.