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Veterinary Medicine International
Volume 2012, Article ID 236205, 17 pages
Review Article

Mycobacterium bovis: A Model Pathogen at the Interface of Livestock, Wildlife, and Humans

1Infectious Bacterial Diseases Research Unit, National Animal Disease Center, Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture, Ames, IA 50010, USA
2Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos (CSIC-UCLM-JCCM), Ronda de Toledo s/n, 13005 Ciudad Real, Spain
3School of Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin, UCD, Dublin 4, Ireland

Received 6 February 2012; Accepted 11 April 2012

Academic Editor: Jesse M. Hostetter

Copyright © 2012 Mitchell V. Palmer 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.


Complex and dynamic interactions involving domestic animals, wildlife, and humans create environments favorable to the emergence of new diseases, or reemergence of diseases in new host species. Today, reservoirs of Mycobacterium bovis, the causative agent of tuberculosis in animals, and sometimes humans, exist in a range of countries and wild animal populations. Free-ranging populations of white-tailed deer in the US, brushtail possum in New Zealand, badger in the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom, and wild boar in Spain exemplify established reservoirs of M. bovis. Establishment of these reservoirs is the result of factors such as spillover from livestock, translocation of wildlife, supplemental feeding of wildlife, and wildlife population densities beyond normal habitat carrying capacities. As many countries attempt to eradicate M. bovis from livestock, efforts are impeded by spillback from wildlife reservoirs. It will not be possible to eradicate this important zoonosis from livestock unless transmission between wildlife and domestic animals is halted. Such an endeavor will require a collaborative effort between agricultural, wildlife, environmental, and political interests.