Bovine tuberculosis: Epidemiologic aspects and public health implications in and around Debre Birhan, Ethiopuia

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A cross-sectional study to assess the epidemiology and zoonotic implication of bovine tuberculosis (BTB) was conducted on 1055 cattle in and around Debre Birhan between December 2006 and October 2007 using a comparative intradermal tuberculin (CIDT) test, abattoir surveillance, bacteriology and molecular typing. Besides, 140 livestock owners were interviewed for the evaluation of the zoonotic potential of BTB. On the basis of the CIDT test, animal and herd prevalence were 2.7% (14/524) and 9.3% (13/140), respectively, while in abattoir-based study the prevalence was 22% (117/531). Male animals were more likely (OR= 1.7; P=0.012; 95% CI: 1.12, 2.55) to exhibit tuberculous lesions as compared to female animals. The proportion of culture positivity was 32% (40/125) in tissue samples. But, because of the scarcity of molecular facilities, only nine isolates were typed in Veterinary Laboratory Agency (VLA), United Kingdom. Out of these, seven isolates were positive for the genus Mycobacterium of which two were identified as M. tuberculosis. The two M. tuberculosis species had the same spoligotype pattern. Awareness of cattle owners about BTB was poor (25.7%) and thus cattle owners were found to consume raw milk, soured milk product (yoghurt) and raw meat. A total of 3407 TB patients received short course therapy in health institutions found in Debre Birhan with in five years, of which 79.9% (2723/3407) were between 15 to 50 years. Thus, detection of BTB both in live and slaughtered animals, lower awareness of cattle owners about the disease and the prevailing habit of consumption of animal products would suggest the potential role of BTB as a zoonosis, while the isolation of M. tuberculosis from animal tissues warrants the existence of transmission of this agent from humans to animals. Therefore, practical and sound control methods such as strict meat inspection, boiling of milk and cooking of meat, and public education to raise the awareness on the transmission of the disease are recommended.



Bovine tuberculosis, CIDT test, Abattoir-based study, Epidemiology, Debre Birhan