Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) is generally viewed as a disease of cattle and domesticated bovines. However, there are cycles of spillover of the agent which function in certain niches, especially in peri-sylvatic ecosystems where interactions between domesticated bovines and wild cervids (deer) or other wild bovines (wildbeeste) may create vulnerabilities. Since it is especially difficult to monitor the disease in wild populations, such spillovers may be difficult to detect and have extensive impact before effective interventions are implemented. The identification of bTB in wild cervids in South Eastern Indiana in the United States thus serves as a reminder of this difficult issue.
A recent article from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), describes the results of an intensive contact tracing program initiated after it was suspected that a Nebraska man, who had pulmonary tuberculosis attributable to Mycobacterium bovis, had acted as the primary focus for person-to-person transmission to other susceptible people, through airborne routes.