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PLoS One. 2019 Dec 30;14(12):e0226300. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0226300. eCollection 2019.

Co-infection of cattle with Fasciola hepatica or F. gigantica and Mycobacterium bovis: A systematic review.

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Department of Infection Biology, Institute of Infection and Global Health, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, United Kingdom.
School of Veterinary Science, University of Liverpool, Leahurst, Neston, United Kingdom.


The liver flukes, Fasciola hepatica and F. gigantica, are common trematode parasites of livestock. F. hepatica is known to modulate the immune response, including altering the response to co-infecting pathogens. Bovine tuberculosis (bTB), caused by Mycobacterium bovis, is a chronic disease which is difficult to control and is of both animal welfare and public health concern. Previous research has suggested that infection with liver fluke may affect the accuracy of the bTB skin test, but direction of the effect differs between studies. In a systematic review of the literature, all experimental and observational studies concerning co-infection with these two pathogens were sought. Data were extracted on the association between fluke infection and four measures of bTB diagnosis or pathology, namely, the bTB skin test, interferon γ test, lesion detection and culture/bacterial recovery. Of a large body of literature dating from 1950 to 2019, only thirteen studies met the inclusion criteria. These included studies of experimentally infected calves, case control studies on adult cows, cross sectional abattoir studies and a herd level study. All the studies had a medium or high risk of bias. The balance of evidence from the 13 studies included in the review suggests that liver fluke exposure was associated with either no effect or a decreased response to all of the four aspects of bTB diagnosis assessed: skin test, IFN γ, lesion detection and mycobacteria cultured or recovered. Most studies showed a small and/or non-significant effect so the clinical and practical importance of the observed effect is likely to be modest, although it could be more significant in particular groups of animals, such as dairy cattle.

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