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Veterinary Medicine International
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 712369, 14 pages
Review Article

Tuberculosis in Birds: Insights into the Mycobacterium avium Infections

1Avian Diseases Section, Division of Pathology, Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), Izatnagar 243 122, India
2Avian Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, Animal Husbandry Department, Government of Kerala, Thiruvalla, Kerala 689 105, India
3Division of Bacteriology and Mycology, Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), Izatnagar 243 122, India
4Division of Animal Biotechnology, Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), Izatnagar 243 122, India
5Central Institute for Research on Goats, Makhdoom, Mathura 281 122, India
6Immunology Section, Division of Animal Biotechnology, Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), Izatnagar 243 122, India

Received 14 January 2011; Revised 25 March 2011; Accepted 5 May 2011

Academic Editor: Jesse M. Hostetter

Copyright © 2011 Kuldeep Dhama 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.


Tuberculosis, a List B disease of World Organization for Animal Health, caused by M. avium or M. genavense predominantly affects poultry and pet or captive birds. Clinical manifestations in birds include emaciation, depression and diarrhea along with marked atrophy of breast muscle. Unlike tuberculosis in animals and man, lesions in lungs are rare. Tubercular nodules can be seen in liver, spleen, intestine and bone marrow. Granulomatous lesion without calcification is a prominent feature. The disease is a rarity in organized poultry sector due to improved farm practices, but occurs in zoo aviaries. Molecular techniques like polymerase chain reaction combined with restriction fragment length polymorphism and gene probes aid in rapid identification and characterization of mycobacteria subspecies, and overcome disadvantages of conventional methods which are slow, labour intensive and may at times fail to produce precise results. M. avium subsp. avium with genotype IS901+ and IS1245+ causes infections in animals and human beings too. The bacterium causes sensitivity in cattle to the tuberculin test. The paper discusses in brief the M. avium infection in birds, its importance in a zoonotic perspective, and outlines conventional and novel strategies for its diagnosis, prevention and eradication in domestic/pet birds and humans alike.