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Vet Res. 2005 May-Jun;36(3):411-36.

Zoonotic aspects of Mycobacterium bovis and Mycobacterium avium-intracellulare complex (MAC).

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UR918 Pathologie Infectieuse et Immunologie, INRA Centre de Tours, 37380 Nouzilly, France.


Pathogens that are transmitted between the environment, wildlife, livestock and humans represent major challenges for the protection of human and domestic animal health, the economic sustainability of agriculture, and the conservation of wildlife. Among such pathogens, the genus Mycobacterium is well represented by M. bovis, the etiological agent of bovine tuberculosis, M. avium ssp. paratuberculosis (Map) the etiological agent of Johne disease, M. avium ssp. avium (Maa) and in a few common cases by other emergent environmental mycobacteria. Epidemiologic surveys performed in Europe, North America and New Zealand have demonstrated the existence and importance of environmental and wildlife reservoirs of mycobacterial infections that limit the attempts of disease control programmes. The aim of this review is to examine the zoonotic aspects of mycobacteria transmitted from the environment and wildlife. This work is focused on the species of two main groups of mycobacteria classified as important pathogens for humans and animals: first, M. bovis, the causative agent of bovine tuberculosis, which belongs to the M. tuberculosis complex and has a broad host range including wildlife, captive wildlife, domestic livestock, non-human primates and humans; the second group examined, is the M. avium-intracellulare complex (MAC) which includes M. avium ssp. avium causing major health problems in AIDS patients and M. avium ssp. paratuberculosis the etiological agent of Johne disease in cattle and identified in patients with Crohn disease. MAC agents, in addition to a broad host range, are environmental mycobacteria found in numerous biotopes including the soil, water, aerosols, protozoa, deep litter and fresh tropical vegetation. This review examines the possible reservoirs of these pathogens in the environment and in wildlife, their role as sources of infection in humans and animals and their health impact on humans. The possibilities of control and management programmes for these mycobacterial infections are examined with regards to the importance of their natural reservoirs.

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