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Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection in cattle from the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa

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Background: Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the main causative agent of tuberculosis (TB) in human and Mycobacterium bovis commonly causes tuberculosis in animals. Transmission of tuberculosis caused by both pathogens can occur from human to animals and vice versa. Results: In the current study, M. tuberculosis, as confirmed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using primers targeting 3 regions of difference (RD4, RD9 and RD12) on the genomes, was isolated from cattle originating from two epidemiologically unrelated farms in the Eastern Cape (E.C) Province of South Africa. Although the isolates were genotyped with variable number of tandem repeat (VNTR) typing, no detailed epidemiological investigation was carried out on the respective farms to unequivocally confirm or link humans as sources of TB transmission to cattle, a move that would have embraced the 'One Health' concept. In addition, strain comparison with human M. tuberculosis in the database from the E.C Province and other provinces in the country did not reveal any match. Conclusions: This is the first report of cases of M. tuberculosis infection in cattle in South Africa. The VNTR profiles of the M. tuberculosis strains identified in the current study will form the basis for creating M. tuberculosis VNTR database for animals including cattle for future epidemiological studies. Our findings however, call for urgent reinforcement of collaborative efforts between the veterinary and the public health services of the country.




Hlokwe, T. M., Said, H., & Gcebe, N. (2017). Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection in cattle from the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. BMC Veterinary Research, 13(1).

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