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Veterinary Medicine International
Volume 2011, Article ID 816345, 12 pages
Review Article

Bovine Tuberculosis and the Establishment of an Eradication Program in the United States: Role of Veterinarians

Infectious Bacterial Diseases of Livestock Research Unit, National Animal Disease Center, Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture, 1920 Dayton Avenue, Ames, IA 50010, USA

Received 10 January 2011; Revised 15 February 2011; Accepted 10 March 2011

Academic Editor: Jesse M. Hostetter

Copyright © 2011 Mitchell V. Palmer and W. Ray Waters. 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 significance of the identification of Mycobacterium bovis as a zoonotic pathogen in 1882 was not initially recognized. After years of research by veterinarians, and other scientists, the importance of M. bovis as a pathogen and the public health ramifications, were appreciated. Veterinarians played pivotal roles in the creation of improved meat and milk inspection, diagnosis of M. bovis infected cattle, and in time, a bovine tuberculosis eradication program that would impact every cattle producer in the country. After overcoming many challenges, the 93-year-long program has decreased disease prevalence from 5% to <0.001%. Today, years of hard work by practitioners, researchers and regulatory officials alike, have yielded a program with a net benefit of almost $160 million per year.