Updated 14 December 2018

Bovine TB increasing in Nigerian cattle and livestock workers

Annually, approximately 126,000 people are affected by zoonotic (animal) TB worldwide, or over 1 million cases in the last decade.

A new study presented at the 46th Union World Conference on Lung Health assessed TB rates among both cattle and livestock workers in Nigeria.

Overall, 3595 cattle and 266 livestock workers were screened for TB.

Read: Can you get TB from animals?

Additionally, 86 strains of bovine TB were isolated from slaughtered cattle, portending major public health risks in a setting with poor knowledge and practices towards bovine TB.

The tip of the iceberg

Overall, 4.6% (7/152) of butchers and 6.1% (7/114) of marketers, respectively had positive TB cultures.
With a conservative estimate based on available evidence that 1.4% of all TB cases are caused by zoonotic strains, this would represent approximately 126,000 people affected by zoonotic TB worldwide annually, or over 1 million cases in the last decade.

Read: High hopes for TB treatment

This neglect has led patients to receive improper diagnosis and inadequate treatment, especially in developing regions. Mycobacterium bovis, a zoonotic strain, is naturally resistant to pyrazinamide, a key first-line medicine used in the standard TB treatment regimen.

Using pyrazinamide to treat patients with bovine TB increases the risks of treatment failure and of their developing resistance to other TB medicines used in course of treatment.

“The people affected by zoonotic TB who we're now identifying likely represent the tip of the iceberg,” said Dr Francisco Olea-Popelka, Assistant Professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University.

Read: WHO unveils radical new TB diagnoses machine 

“We must ensure that TB diagnosis can identify the specific type of TB that people are affected by in regions in which socio-cultural practices increase the risk of getting TB from infected animals or their products, especially through consumption of unpasteurized milk products.

"We also need to broaden our concept of TB to design strategies to prevent and control TB at the animal source to prevent transmission to humans.” 

Read more: 

Tutu: TB toll in SA is disgraceful and unacceptable  

Why you need fresh air when using public transport  

10 quick TB facts