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      Mycobacterium bovis: A Model Pathogen at the Interface of Livestock, Wildlife, and Humans


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          Complex and dynamic interactions involving domestic animals, wildlife, and humans create environments favorable to the emergence of new diseases, or reemergence of diseases in new host species. Today, reservoirs of Mycobacterium bovis, the causative agent of tuberculosis in animals, and sometimes humans, exist in a range of countries and wild animal populations. Free-ranging populations of white-tailed deer in the US, brushtail possum in New Zealand, badger in the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom, and wild boar in Spain exemplify established reservoirs of M. bovis. Establishment of these reservoirs is the result of factors such as spillover from livestock, translocation of wildlife, supplemental feeding of wildlife, and wildlife population densities beyond normal habitat carrying capacities. As many countries attempt to eradicate M. bovis from livestock, efforts are impeded by spillback from wildlife reservoirs. It will not be possible to eradicate this important zoonosis from livestock unless transmission between wildlife and domestic animals is halted. Such an endeavor will require a collaborative effort between agricultural, wildlife, environmental, and political interests.

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          Most cited references198

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          Emerging Infectious Diseases of Wildlife-- Threats to Biodiversity and Human Health

          P. Daszak (2000)
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            Diseases shared between wildlife and livestock: a European perspective

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              Evidence of the role of European wild boar as a reservoir of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex.

              Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is caused by Mycobacterium bovis and closely related mycobacteria of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex. They have an extensive host range and may cause zoonotic TB. A major obstacle to bTB eradication in livestock is the implication of wildlife in the natural cycle of the pathogen. The identification of wildlife reservoir hosts is crucial for the implementation of effective control measures. The European wild boar (Sus scrofa) is frequently considered a spillover or dead end host rather than a true reservoir, and scientific evidence is conflicting outside Mediterranean Spain. The aim of this review is to update current scientific evidence of the wild boar as a TB reservoir and to underline those aspects that need further research. Evidences supporting that wild boar is a TB reservoir host include: (i) presence of common M. tuberculosis complex genotypes in wild boar, domestic and wild animals and humans, (ii) high prevalence of M. bovis among wild boar in estates fenced for decades in complete absence of contact with domestic livestock, and other wild ungulates (iii) TB lesions are frequently seen in thoracic lymph nodes and lungs, suggesting that respiratory infection and excretion may occur, and (iv) extensive tuberculous lesions in more than one anatomical region occur in a high proportion of juvenile wild boar that probably represents the main source of mycobacterial excretion. Hence, epidemiological, pathological and microbiological evidence strongly suggests that, at least in Spanish Mediterranean ecosystems, wild boar are able to maintain TB infection in the wild and are most probably able to transmit the disease to other species, acting as a true wildlife reservoir. These results expand the list of wildlife species that act as natural reservoirs of TB in different parts of the world and suggest the need to control the infection in wild boar populations for the complete eradication of the disease in Spain.

                Author and article information

                Vet Med Int
                Vet Med Int
                Veterinary Medicine International
                Hindawi Publishing Corporation
                10 June 2012
                : 2012
                : 236205
                1Infectious Bacterial Diseases Research Unit, National Animal Disease Center, Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture, Ames, IA 50010, USA
                2Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos (CSIC-UCLM-JCCM), Ronda de Toledo s/n, 13005 Ciudad Real, Spain
                3School of Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin, UCD, Dublin 4, Ireland
                Author notes

                Academic Editor: Jesse M. Hostetter

                Copyright © 2012 Mitchell V. Palmer et al.

                This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 6 February 2012
                : 11 April 2012
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