Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: January 15, 2000
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Programs to eradicate bovine tuberculosis in the United States were initiated in 1917 when the prevalence of disease was about 5%. Although the prevalence of tuberculosis is less than 0.0002% in cattle, there has been a resurgence of the disease in animals in the 1990s. Factors that have contributed to the problem are: 1)importation of tuberculous steers from Mexico; 2) persistence of low levels of Mycobacterium bovis infection in large dairy herds; 3) presence of tuberculosis in captive deer and elk; 4) presence of tuberculosis in zoos, game parks, and other exotic animal collects; and the presence of tuberculosis in wildlife. The greatest threat to the program to eradicate tuberculosis from the United States is the presence of M. bovis in a population of free-ranging white-tailed deer in northeastern Michigan. This is the first time that a wildlife reservoir of tuberculosis has been identified in the United States. Other countries with a wildlife reservoir of M. bovis, such as brushtail possums in New Zealand and badgers in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, have not been able to eradicate the disease from domestic livestock. Since 1998, four herds of beef cattle from northeast Michigan have been destroyed because of tuberculosis. Results of DNA fingerprinting indicate that the cattle were infected with the same strain of M. bovis that has been isolated from the white-tailed deer. New strategies for control and eventual elimination of tuberculosis in the wildlife will need to be developed and implemented. This may include use of a vaccine that can be used in wildlife and domestic livestock.