Tracing the origins of Mycobacterium bovis tuberculosis in humans in the USA to cattle in Mexico using spoligotyping

Int J Infect Dis. 2010 Sep;14 Suppl 3:e129-35. doi: 10.1016/j.ijid.2009.11.037. Epub 2010 Apr 18.


Objectives: To compare genotypes of Mycobacterium bovis strains from humans in Southern California with genotypes of M. bovis strains in cattle in Mexico and the USA to explore the possible origins of human infections.

Methods: We conducted a descriptive analysis of M. bovis genotypes from a binational population of humans and cattle using spacer oligonucleotide typing (spoligotyping).

Results: One hundred six human M. bovis spoligotypes were compared to spoligotypes from 496 Mexican cattle and 219 US cattle. Twelve spoligotype patterns were identified among human cases and 126 spoligotype patterns were detected in cattle. Over 91% (97/106) of the human M. bovis isolates had spoligotypes that were identical to those found in Mexican cattle. Four human cases had spoligotypes that matched both cattle born in Mexico and in the USA. Nine human cases had spoligotypes that did not match cattle born in Mexico or the USA.

Conclusions: Our data indicate that the population of M. bovis strains causing human TB disease in Southern California is closely related to the M. bovis strain population found in Mexican cattle and supports existing epidemiological evidence that human M. bovis disease in San Diego likely originated from Mexican cattle.

Keywords: Molecular epidemiology; Mycobacterium bovis; Spoligotyping; Tuberculosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • California / epidemiology
  • Cattle
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Disease Vectors
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Interspersed Repetitive Sequences
  • Male
  • Mexico / epidemiology
  • Mycobacterium bovis / genetics*
  • Mycobacterium bovis / isolation & purification*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tuberculosis / epidemiology
  • Tuberculosis / microbiology*
  • Tuberculosis / transmission*
  • Tuberculosis, Bovine / epidemiology
  • Tuberculosis, Bovine / microbiology*


  • DNA, Bacterial