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Ir Vet J. 2009 Jun 1;62(6):390-7. doi: 10.1186/2046-0481-62-6-390.

An outbreak of tuberculosis affecting cattle and people on an Irish dairy farm, following the consumption of raw milk.

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1
District Veterinary Office, Enniscorthy, Co, Wexford, Ireland. paul.doran@agriculture.gov.ie.

Abstract

Bovine tuberculosis is an ongoing problem in Ireland, and herd incidence has remained at approximately 5% for some years. Spillover of infection from cattle to people remains an ever-present possibility, given the ongoing pool of infection in the Irish cattle population. This paper describes an outbreak of tuberculosis affecting cattle and people on a dairy farm in southeastern Ireland following the consumption of milk from a seven-year-old cow with tuberculous mastitis. Twenty-five of 28 calves born during autumn 2004 and spring 2005 were subsequently identified as TB reactors, and five of six family members were positive on the Mantoux test. During 2005, milk from this cow had mainly been used to feed calves, and was added only occasionally to the bulk tank. Therefore, the calves each received infected milk on an almost continuous basis between birth and weaning. The family collected milk from the bulk milk tank, and consumed it without pasteurisation. This case highlights the risks associated with the consumption of raw milk. In this family, TB has had a very significant impact on the health of two young children. These risks are well recognised, and relevant information for farmers is available. It is of concern, therefore, that raw milk consumption remains prevalent on Irish farms. New strategies are needed, in partnership with industry, to address this important issue.

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