The risk for humans to contract bovine tuberculosis through the consumption of undercooked game meat as well as biltong (traditionally dried game meat) is a concern. The survival potential of Mycobacterium bovis during the cooking and drying processes was researched in a preceding study on beef and the positive results compelled the authors to investigate the results with a similar preliminary study on game meat. Muscular, lymphatic and visceral tissues from skin test positive African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) and greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) with tuberculous lesions were collected from the Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park during the park's culling programme. The different tissues were exposed to cooking and the muscular tissue to the drying process prior to culture. All acid-fast isolates were analysed by polymerase chain reaction for the presence of Mycobacterium bovis. All tissues were found negative for Mycobacterium bovis but non-tuberculous mycobacteria were isolated from kidney, liver, heart and lymph nodes. The results showed that these processes will kill Mycobacterium bovis but the unexpected recovery of non-tuberculous mycobacteria suggests possible survival and resistance characteristics of these strains which might be of veterinary public health interest.
Van der Merwe, M., & Michel, A. L. (2012). An investigation of the effects of secondary processing on Mycobacterium spp. in naturally infected game meat and organs. Journal of the South African Veterinary Association, 81(3). https://doi.org/10.4102/jsava.v81i3.141