Bovine tuberculosis at the human-livestock-wildlife interface: is it a public health problem in Tanzania? A review.

Author(s): Prof. Mecky Matee

Despite the apparent public health concern about Bovine tuberculosis (BTB) in Tanzania, little has been done regarding the zoonotic importance of the disease and raising awareness of the community to prevent the disease. Bovine tuberculosis is a potential zoonotic disease that can infect a variety of hosts, including humans. The presence of multiple hosts including wild animals, inefficient diagnostic techniques, absence of defined national controls and eradication programs could impede the control of bovine TB. In Tanzania, the diagnosis of Mycobacterium bovis in animals is mostly carried out by tuberculin skin testing, meat inspection in abattoirs and only rarely using bacteriological techniques. The estimated prevalence of BTB in animals in Tanzania varies and ranges across regions from 0.2% to 13.3%, which is likely to be an underestimate if not confirmed by bacteriology or molecular techniques. Mycobacterium bovis has been detected and isolated from different animal species and has been recovered in 10% of apparently healthy wildebeest that did not show lesions at post-mortem. The transmission of the disease from animals to humans can occur directly through the aerosol route and indirectly by consumption of raw milk. This poses an emerging disease threat in the current era of HIV confection in Tanzania and elsewhere. Mycobacterium bovis is one of the causative agents of human extra pulmonary tuberculosis. In Tanzania there was a significant increase (116.6%) of extrapulmonary cases reported between 1995 and 2009, suggesting the possibility of widespread M. bovis and Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection due to general rise of Human Immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This paper aims to review the potential health and economic impact of bovine tuberculosis and challenges to its control in order to safeguard human and animal population in Tanzania.


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