Skip to main content

Eradicating efforts against bovine tuberculosis

Bovine tuberculosis (TB) cases continue to be present in cattle and wild animals in the United States despite ongoing efforts to eradicate the disease in livestock and wildlife reservoirs, which imposes a major burden for U.S. agriculture.

In December 2018, Global One Health initiative (GOHi) faculty expert, Shu-Hua Wang, MD, professor in the Ohio State College of Medicine, along with two visiting scholars, Eleine Anzai, a veterinarian and PhD student from the University of São Paulo, Brazil, and Agumas Shibabaw Tiruye, a PhD student from the University of Gondar, Ethiopia, traveled to Michigan to observe and help evaluate bovine TB in deer populations.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) invited the team to witness biopsies performed on affected deer and to discuss bovine TB control in Michigan.

The invitation was a result of a previous collaboration between Ohio State and the Michigan DNR as part of the longitudinal pilot award, “Improved Diagnosis of Mycobacterium bovis Infection in Cattle and Humans.”

Recent outbreaks like the one in Michigan, highlight the need for rapid, highly-sensitive and specific diagnostic surveillance tests. Presently, there are no commercially available field-based, cost-effective, rapid diagnostic tests for bovine TB.

Currently, Wang and GOHi Executive Director, Wondwossen Gebreyes, DVM, PhD, and colleagues have been working in partnership with Michigan’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in the evaluation of rapid diagnostic tests for bovine TB in cattle in Michigan and Ethiopia.

Bovine TB not only affects cattle, other livestock and wild animals, but also has extensive impact on human health and global economies. According to the 2018 Global Tuberculosis Report, the World Health Organization estimates that approximately 142,000 of the 10 million TB cases in 2017 could be due to bovine TB. Bovine TB cases in humans often go undetected or misdiagnosed because current laboratory tests cannot differentiate the bacteria that causes bovine TB, leading to death or delayed treatment in patients.

“Effective surveillance and diagnosis of bovine TB is crucial for prevention and eradication of this disease,” said Wang. “The ability of the proposed tests to provide early detection will fill a significant need in this area and have high economic, agricultural, livelihood and public health impact in the United States and worldwide.”

These new diagnostic tests, currently being evaluated, will reduce cost, enable rapid detection and significantly aid in preventing transmission of bovine TB between animals and from animals to humans.


Photo courtesy of Kelly Straka and Julie Melotti Michigan Department of Natural Resources.