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. 2020 Mar;67(2):97-111.
doi: 10.1111/zph.12684. Epub 2020 Jan 9.

Human Zoonotic Tuberculosis and Livestock Exposure in Low- And Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Review Identifying Challenges in Laboratory Diagnosis

Free PMC article

Human Zoonotic Tuberculosis and Livestock Exposure in Low- And Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Review Identifying Challenges in Laboratory Diagnosis

Sarah Anne Luciano et al. Zoonoses Public Health. .
Free PMC article


Background: Zoonotic tuberculosis (zTB) accounts for 1.4% of the global tuberculosis burden, with the largest disease burden in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). These populations have increased exposure to zTB due to livestock rearing practices and raw dairy consumption. This qualitative systematic literature review evaluates the quality of the literature that examines the association between human zTB in LMICs and frequent exposure to livestock and livestock products and summarizes current gaps in laboratory detection methods.

Methods: The Navigation Guide, a systematic review framework utilized to assess environmental health exposures, was used to conduct this literature review. Peer-reviewed research articles were selected and evaluated for risk of bias and quality of evidence. Only studies conducted in LMICs that mentioned livestock or livestock product exposure and had a confirmed diagnosis were eligible.

Results: Fifteen studies met the inclusion criteria. Reported prevalence of human zTB ranged from 0% to 28%, with cattle and raw dairy the primary exposures. All confirmed zTB cases were Mycobacterium bovis. Eight of the 15 studies included livestock sampling, predominantly cattle and reported prevalence of zTB between 0% and 23%. Laboratory methods used included nearly a dozen different culture methods and a variety of molecular methods, some of which are not appropriate for zTB.

Conclusions: This review revealed the need for appropriate and standardized laboratory diagnostic methods, and large prospective studies of at-risk populations to determine exposures that lead to an increased risk of tuberculosis conversion/infection to better understand the true burden of disease. Standardized, easy to implement laboratory diagnostics is an imperative focus for this scientific field to better identify the burden of zTB. Future studies pairing livestock and human subjects will allow better characterization of the high zTB transmission areas for targeted control and prevention programmes.

Keywords: Mycobacterium bovis; humans; livestock; ruminants; tuberculosis; zoonosis.

Conflict of interest statement

The views presented in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the George Washington University. The authors declare no competing financial interests or other source of conflict of interest.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Study selection flowchart. Search terms for each database are provided in Table S1
Figure 2
Figure 2
Summary of risk of bias judgements (low, probably low, probably high, high risk, not applicable) for each included study. Risk of bias designations is assigned according to reasons listed in Table S2, Characteristics of each study, Tables S3‐S17

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