acid-fast bacterium called Mycobacterium bovis.
Species that can be infected include humans, cattle, deer, elk, goats, pigs, domestic cats, llamas, foxes, coyotes, mustelids, badgers, possums, raccoons and rodents. Some species (e.g. sheep and horses) are rarely infected. In many countries wild mammals act as a reservoir for infection (e.g. opossums in New Zealand and badgers in the UK) which has prompted control measures to control their numbers
There is one report in the literature of infection in a household involving human and canine patients with clinical signs and a latent human carrier (Shrikrishna et al 2009)
Infected animals may be asymptomatic, or develop a chronic disease that usually involves the lungs, lymph nodes and other organs showing signs including fever, weight loss or respiratory signs such as coughing. Other signs may gastrointestinal and cattle may develop mastitis.
Other diagnostic tests are available and the organism can be isolated at post-mortem .
Treatment involves administration of isoniazid and rifampicin for 9 months
There are experimental vaccinations available .
Other preventive measures include controlling wild animal reservoirs, and the routine pasteurisation of milk.
Shrikrishna D et al (2009) Human and canine pulmonary Mycobacterium bovis infection in the same household - re-emergence of an old zoonotic threat ? Thorax 64 89-91
Updated September 2014