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Res Vet Sci. 2003 Feb;74(1):1-15.

The transmission of Mycobacterium bovis infection to cattle.

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Department of Clinical Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge, CB3 0ES, Cambridge, UK.


The prevalence of Mycobacterium bovis infection in cattle is increasing rapidly in some countries, including the UK and Ireland. The organism infects a wide range of mammalian hosts, and eradication of the disease is difficult if there is an extensive reservoir in the wildlife population. Existing evidence suggests that wildlife vectors include the European badger in the UK and Ireland, the brush-tailed possum and ferret in New Zealand and ungulates in some other countries. Cattle grazing field boundaries or short swards are at particularly high risk, since the chance of contact with the intermediate host or their excreta is increased. There is evidence that the transmission of the disease between cattle following movement accounts for 10-15% of outbreaks in the British Isles and that transmission can occur across farm boundaries. The prevalence the prevalence of single reactors in herds suggested that within-herd transmission was not common. In herds with infected cattle, spreading slurry is a risk factor, which can be minimised by prolonged storage of the slurry, by spreading it on fields not used for grazing or by soil injection. M. bovis also survives in water and may enter the respiratory tract during drinking. It is concluded that M. bovis infection in cattle can be transmitted by a number of routes, some of which can be controlled by appropriate husbandry, but that circumstantial evidence suggests that the existence of a widespread intermediate host is the greatest contributor to infection in cattle.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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