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Bovine Tuberculosis

Copperplate engraving by André Du Laurens (1558-1609), an anatomist and Paris court physician, showing King Henry IV of France touching a number of scrofula sufferers who are gathered about him in a circle. Legend of the original plate: Des mirabili strumas sanandi vi solis Galliae regibus christianissimis divinitus concessa liber unus. Paris: Apud Marcum Orry, 1609. [xv] 307 (misnumbered 293), [18] pp., fold. Plate. 17.5 Limp vellum.


(Mycobacterium bovis, syn. ""Mycobacterium tuberculosis typus bovinus" (Lehmann and Neumann 1907), "Mycobacterium tuberculosis var. bovis" (Bergey 1934), "Mycobacterium bovis subsp. bovis" (Karlson and Lessel 1970)).


Tuberculose bovine, Rundertuberculose.


  • Bacteria (superkingdom); Actinobacteria (Phylum); Actinobacteria (Class); Actinomycetales (Order); Mycobacteriaceae (Family); Mycobacterium (genus); Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (group)
  • Notifiable Disease? YES


Bovine tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious disease that has affected animals and humans since antiquity, that is due to Mycobacterium bovis, a member isolated by Robert Koch in 1882 of the M. tuberculosis complex (MTC) including various agents of human and animal TB (M. tuberculosis, M. africanum, M. canettii, M. pinnipedii, M. bovis subsp. caprae, M. microti, M. prototuberculosis, dassie bacillus).Robert Koch


Because of its role in human TB meningitis, scrofula, and adult pulmonary TB, and a 40% incidence in cattle at the turn of the XXth century, eradication programs were successfully implemented in most industrialised countries during the 1950's.


M. bovis is a slow, fastiduously growing acid-fast bacterium with the widest host spectrum within the MTC, infecting by the respiratory or oral routes human, cattle, swine, cat, dog, goat, horse, sheep, and captive widlife.

sérosite tuberculeuse de la rate par voie lymphatique rétrograde à tubercules caséifiés observée sur un bovin belge de 8 ans. Speel tuberculous serositis in an 8-year old cow. © CODA-CERVA

The infection can remain latent for extended periods. Therefore, although declared officially free of TB, many countries are still dealing today with recurrent outbreaks in cattle.


Wildlife reservoirs have emerged in the British Isles, Spain, France, North America and New Zealand and call for increased surveillance.


Bovine TB was listed in 2005 by WHO among the top seven neglected zoonosis1.

Control programs are based on meat inspection, intradermal tuberculin tests, isolation and PCR detection, and blood-based laboratory assays such as the ELISA, proliferation assays, and the IFNy assay2.scrofula

1 WHO, WHO/SDE/FOS/2006.1, 2005
2 OIE, Manual of Diagnostic Tests and Vaccines for Terrestrial Animals, 2008



• Belgian National Reference Laboratory
• Specific information Diagnostics (Matrix, Tests)
Pathological specimens or cultures, for direct PCR-detection (16S) or direct spoligotyping, and for bacteriological isolation, identification and typing ( IS6110-RFLP, Spoligotyping, VNTR)
8H-Old heparinised blood samples for IFNG assay in ruminants and swine, and for LTA assay in all other species.

Serological diagnosis by Elisa


• NRL ; member of the Belgian Food Safety Agency Working Group on Bovine Tuberculosis ; yearly communication/training on bovine TB for the AFSCA-FAVV

: lymphadénite caséeuse rayonnante chez un bovin de 2,5 ans. Radial caseous lymphadenitiis in a 2,5 year old cow. © CODA-CERVA

SCIENTIST responsible for this topic :

David Fretin



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