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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Ames, Iowa » National Animal Disease Center » Infectious Bacterial Diseases Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #312583

Title: Mycobacterium bovis infection of cattle and white-tailed deer: Translational research of relevance to human tuberculosis

item Waters, Wade
item Palmer, Mitchell

Submitted to: ILAR Journal
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/12/2015
Publication Date: 5/19/2015
Publication URL:
Citation: Waters, W.R., Palmer, M.V. 2015. Mycobacterium bovis infection of cattle and white-tailed deer: Translational research of relevance to human tuberculosis. ILAR Journal. 56(1):26-43.

Interpretive Summary: Despite highly successful eradication efforts in several countries, tuberculosis of cattle remains a serious health concern worldwide. In addition, an outbreak of tuberculosis in white-tailed deer in Michigan and continued importation of tuberculous cattle from Mexico have seriously hindered eradication efforts within the United States. Without new strategies, eradication and control of bovine tuberculosis will be impossible. Thus, improved techniques for control, such as better diagnostic tests and vaccines, are needed for prevention of tuberculosis in cattle. In this article, the natural history of bovine tuberculosis in cattle and deer as well as immune mechanisms associated with bovine tuberculosis infection and vaccination are reviewed and compared to similar studies on human tuberculosis. This article provides a summary on the current knowledge of bovine tuberculosis research and its relevance to human tuberculosis. Additionally, it provides insight into the “One Health” principle using bovine tuberculosis as a primary example for this approach.

Technical Abstract: Tuberculosis (TB) is a premier example of a disease complex with pathogens primarily affecting humans (i.e., Mycobacterium tuberculosis) or livestock and wildlife (i.e., Mycobacterium bovis) and with a long history of inclusive collaborations between physicians and veterinarians. Advances with the study of bovine TB have been applied to human TB, and vice versa. For instance, landmark discoveries on the use of Koch’s tuberculin and interferon-gamma release assays for diagnostic purposes as well as Calmette and Guerin’s attenuated M. bovis strain as a vaccine were first evaluated in cattle for control of bovine TB prior to wide-scale use in humans. Likewise, recent discoveries on the role of effector/memory T cell subsets and polyfunctional T cells in the immune response to human TB, particularly as related to vaccine efficacy, have paved the way for similar studies in cattle. Over the past 15 years, substantial funding for human TB vaccine development has led to the emergence of multiple promising vaccines now in human clinical trials; of which, several are being tested for immunogenicity and efficacy in cattle. Also, the development of population-based vaccination strategies for control of M. bovis infection in wildlife reservoirs (e.g., white-tailed deer in Michigan, USA) will undoubtedly have an impact on our understanding of herd immunity with relevance to the control of both bovine and human TB in high prevalence regions of the world. Thus, the one health approach to research on TB is mutually beneficial for our understanding and control of TB in humans, livestock, and wildlife.