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Vet Microbiol. 2006 Feb 25;112(2-4):313-23. Epub 2005 Dec 20.

Managing the wildlife reservoir of Mycobacterium bovis: the Michigan, USA, experience.

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  • 1Wildlife Disease Laboratory, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, 4125 Beaumont Road, Room 250, Lansing, MI 48910-8106, USA.


Historical, social and economic factors combined to provide a focus where bovine tuberculosis has become established in free-ranging wildlife in northeastern lower Michigan. White-tailed deer, the primary reservoir and maintenance host of tuberculosis, are highly valued by the public, and particularly hunters, for cultural and economic reasons. Since 1995, significant progress has been made in defining and reducing the reservoir of tuberculosis in deer. As yet, no other wildlife species has been shown to play an epidemiologically important role in the disease cycle. The importance of deer and deer hunting to Michigan has uniquely shaped tuberculosis control policies, and poses ongoing challenges as wildlife managers strive to maintain momentum for broad control strategies, and develop focused strategies that are publicly acceptable. Even if momentum and funding can be maintained, tuberculosis will likely continue to be present for a decade or longer. Thus, cattle producers waiting for tuberculosis to be eradicated from wildlife to eliminate risks to their herds and markets face disappointment for the foreseeable future. Such unrealistic expectations also place Michigan's federal tuberculosis accreditation status at perpetual risk. Accredited free status is unlikely to be regained without accompanying changes in cattle management. In Michigan, management of tuberculosis has clearly demonstrated that social issues and public approval are likely to be the critical limiting factors in control.

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