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Veterinary Medicine International
Volume 2011, Article ID 495074, 12 pages
Research Article

Mycobacteria in Terrestrial Small Mammals on Cattle Farms in Tanzania

1Evolutionary Ecology Group, Department of Biology, University of Antwerp, 2020 Antwerp, Belgium
2Mycobacteriology Unit, Department of Microbiology, Institute of Tropical Medicine, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium
3Entomology Unit, Department of Parasitology, Institute of Tropical Medicine, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium
4Pest Management Centre, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Morogoro, Tanzania
5Department of Veterinary Medicine and Public Health, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Morogoro, Tanzania
6Department of Biostatistics, School of Public Health, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35209, USA
7Danish Pest Infestation Laboratory, University of Aarhus, 2800 Kongens Lyngby, Denmark

Received 14 January 2011; Revised 12 March 2011; Accepted 1 April 2011

Academic Editor: Jesse M. Hostetter

Copyright © 2011 Lies Durnez et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The control of bovine tuberculosis and atypical mycobacterioses in cattle in developing countries is important but difficult because of the existence of wildlife reservoirs. In cattle farms in Tanzania, mycobacteria were detected in 7.3% of 645 small mammals and in cow's milk. The cattle farms were divided into “reacting” and “nonreacting” farms, based on tuberculin tests, and more mycobacteria were present in insectivores collected in reacting farms as compared to nonreacting farms. More mycobacteria were also present in insectivores as compared to rodents. All mycobacteria detected by culture and PCR in the small mammals were atypical mycobacteria. Analysis of the presence of mycobacteria in relation to the reactor status of the cattle farms does not exclude transmission between small mammals and cattle but indicates that transmission to cattle from another source of infection is more likely. However, because of the high prevalence of mycobacteria in some small mammal species, these infected animals can pose a risk to humans, especially in areas with a high HIV-prevalence as is the case in Tanzania.