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      Prevalence of Bovine Tuberculosis in Slaughtered Cattle in Sicily, Southern Italy

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          Abstract

          Simple Summary

          Mycobacterium bovis is a Gram-positive, acid-fast bacterium responsible for disease in cattle and in several other domestic and wild animal species, also representing a prominent cause of morbidity and mortality in humans. In Italy, the incidence of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in cattle has been progressively reduced throughout the years; however, the disease still remains widespread in Southern Italy, with the highest prevalence rates recorded in Sicily. Specific eradication programs have been established, with herd testing and post-mortem inspection at the slaughterhouse used as diagnostic procedures to obtain epidemiological data on bTB prevalence. The concomitant use of these procedures is essential in epidemiological surveillance programs, and although data on disease prevalence at herd level are systematically collected and used for epidemiological surveillance in Sicily, data from post-mortem inspection are scant. Therefore, the current survey aimed to investigate the prevalence of bTB in cattle in Sicily during two different three-year periods, using data from meat inspections and histopathological methods. Results obtained show that even though bTB occurrence in cattle was well reduced over the years, the disease still remains widespread in this region, posing severe implications for public health and a prominent economic impact on the livestock industry.

          Abstract

          Post-mortem inspection in slaughterhouses plays a key role in the epidemiological surveillance of infectious diseases, including bTB. This study assessed the prevalence of bTB in cattle in Sicily during two different three-year periods (2010–2012; 2017–2019), using data from meat inspections and histopathological methods. Out of 100,196 cattle, 5221 (5.21%) were diagnosed with tuberculous lesions. Higher prevalence of bTB was recorded during the triennium 2010–2012 (6.74%; n = 3692) compared to the triennium 2017–2019 (3.36%; n = 1529), with a decreasing trend in annual occurrence throughout the study period and a heterogenous proportion of infected cattle among the Sicilian provinces ( p < 0.01). Lower rates of infection were recorded in animals aged <12 months and >84 months ( p < 0.0001). Pearson’s chi square analysis revealed a higher localization of lesions in the thoracic cavity ( p < 0.0001). Gathered findings show that even though bTB occurrence in cattle was greatly reduced over the years, the disease still remains widespread in Sicily, also posing severe implications for public health.

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          Most cited references 51

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          Ante mortem diagnosis of tuberculosis in cattle: a review of the tuberculin tests, gamma-interferon assay and other ancillary diagnostic techniques.

          The early, preclinical stages of bovine TB can be detected in live animals by the use of tests of cellular immunity (the skin, gamma-interferon and lymphocyte transformation tests). Tests of humoral (antibody) immunity, Mycobacterium bovis PCR probes on early tissue cultures or live cattle specimens, and tests based on "electronic nose" technology have been developed more recently. The key measure of diagnostic test accuracy is the relationship between sensitivity and specificity, which determines the false-positive and false-negative proportions. None of the tests currently available for the diagnosis of bovine TB allow a perfectly accurate determination of the M. bovis infection status of cattle. Although various factors can reduce the sensitivity and specificity of the skin tests, these remain the primary ante mortem diagnostic tools for TB in cattle, providing a cost-effective and reliable means of screening entire cattle populations. Despite the inescapable limitations of existing diagnostic tests, bovine TB has been effectively eradicated from many developed countries and regions with the implementation of sound programmes of regular tuberculin skin testing and removal of reactors, coupled with slaughterhouse surveillance for undetected infections, repeat testing and culling of infected herds, cattle movement restrictions to prevent introduction of infected animals and occasional slaughter of entire herds with intractable breakdowns. This is likely to remain the mainstay of bovine TB control programmes for the foreseeable future. Additionally, newer ancillary in vitro diagnostic assays are now available to TB control programme managers to supplement the skin tests in defined circumstances according to the specific disease situation in each country or region. The strategic deployment of ancillary in vitro tests alongside the primary skin tests has enhanced the detection of M. bovis-infected cattle and reduced the number of animals slaughtered as false positives.
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            Zoonotic tuberculosis in human beings caused by Mycobacterium bovis-a call for action.

            Mycobacterium tuberculosis is recognised as the primary cause of human tuberculosis worldwide. However, substantial evidence suggests that the burden of Mycobacterium bovis, the cause of bovine tuberculosis, might be underestimated in human beings as the cause of zoonotic tuberculosis. In 2013, results from a systematic review and meta-analysis of global zoonotic tuberculosis showed that the same challenges and concerns expressed 15 years ago remain valid. These challenges faced by people with zoonotic tuberculosis might not be proportional to the scientific attention and resources allocated in recent years to other diseases. The burden of zoonotic tuberculosis in people needs important reassessment, especially in areas where bovine tuberculosis is endemic and where people live in conditions that favour direct contact with infected animals or animal products. As countries move towards detecting the 3 million tuberculosis cases estimated to be missed annually, and in view of WHO's end TB strategy endorsed by the health authorities of WHO Member States in 2014 to achieve a world free of tuberculosis by 2035, we call on all tuberculosis stakeholders to act to accurately diagnose and treat tuberculosis caused by M bovis in human beings.
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              Zoonotic Mycobacterium bovis–induced Tuberculosis in Humans

              We aimed to estimate the global occurrence of zoonotic tuberculosis (TB) caused by Mycobacterium bovis or M. caprae infections in humans by performing a multilingual, systematic review and analysis of relevant scientific literature of the last 2 decades. Although information from many parts of the world was not available, data from 61 countries suggested a low global disease incidence. In regions outside Africa included in this study, overall median proportions of zoonotic TB of ≤1.4% in connection with overall TB incidence rates ≤71/100,000 population/year suggested low incidence rates. For countries of Africa included in the study, we multiplied the observed median proportion of zoonotic TB cases of 2.8% with the continental average overall TB incidence rate of 264/100,000 population/year, which resulted in a crude estimate of 7 zoonotic TB cases/100,000 population/year. These generally low incidence rates notwithstanding, available data indicated substantial consequences of this disease for some population groups and settings.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Animals (Basel)
                Animals (Basel)
                animals
                Animals : an Open Access Journal from MDPI
                MDPI
                2076-2615
                21 August 2020
                September 2020
                : 10
                : 9
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Veterinary Science, University of Messina, Polo Universitario Annunziata, 98168 Messina, Italy; jabbate@ 123456unime.it (J.M.A.); farfuso@ 123456unime.it (F.A.); glanteri@ 123456unime.it (G.L.)
                [2 ]Department of Chemical, Biological, Pharmaceutical and Environmental Sciences, University of Messina, Polo Universitario Papardo, 98166 Messina, Italy
                [3 ]Veterinary Service of Hygiene of Farms and Zootechnical Productions, ASP 7, 97100 Ragusa, Italy; giuseppe.arestia@ 123456asp.rg.it
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence: ciaria@ 123456unime.it ; Tel.: +39-090-676-5051
                Article
                animals-10-01473
                10.3390/ani10091473
                7552133
                32839384
                © 2020 by the authors.

                Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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