A serological test allows the monitoring of tuberculosis in wild boars in contact with infected cattle

Tuberculosis is a Zoonotic disease caused by bacteria of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex that affects various animal species, including humans. In particular, tuberculosis in wildlife is an emerging problem in Europe and is considered the main cause of failure of disease eradication programs in cattle. In Spain, the wild boar is the main wild reservoir of tuberculosis.

Wild boar piglets. Image: Petr Kratochvil..

In an article published in the journal Transboundary and Emerging Diseases, IRTA-CReSA researchers, in collaboration with researchers from the Autonomous University of Barcelona - Servei d’Ecopatologia de  Fauna Salvatge (SEFaS), ​​have studied for 7 years the tuberculosis in a population of wild boars in the Els Ports of Tortosa- Beseit Natural Park (Tarragona) that has been in contact with a herd of infected bulls. To do this, researchers have developed a serological test that detects antibodies to tuberculosis in serum samples from various species, including wild boar.

Transbound Emerg Dis. 2017 Feb;64(1):275-283. doi: 10.1111/tbed.12368. Serological Follow-up of Tuberculosis in a Wild Boar Population in Contact with Infected Cattle. Pérez de Val B, Napp S, Velarde R, Lavín S, Cervera Z, Singh M, Allepuz A, Mentaberre G.

The results of the study, carried out with samples obtained from 173 wild boars, showed a high incidence of tuberculosis in wild boars, as more than one third of the sampled animals were positive (a total of 58). Most of these cases were confirmed postmortem by the presence of tuberculous lesions in different organs. Thus, the researchers observed a decrease in the positivity of the wild boar after the sanitary depopulation of the bull farm with which they were in contact.

El barranc de Lloret. Foto: Joan Mestre Querol.

This study highlights the interest of the development of methods for the control and monitoring of tuberculosis in wild animals and contributes to the knowledge of the interactions and the transmission of diseases between these and domestic animals.

To contact with IRTA-CReSA researcher responsable of Tuberculosis:

Dr. Bernat Pérez de Val                                             
Email: bernat.perez@irta.cat
Phone: +34 93 467 40 40
Campus UAB, Edifici CReSA s/n,  08193  Bellaterra (Cerdanyola del Vallès) Spain 

About IRTA:

IRTA is a research institute devoted to R+D+I in a variety of agri-food areas, such as vegetal production, animal production, food industries, environment and global change, and agri-food economy. The transfer of scientific advances contribute to the modernization, competitiveness and sustainable development of agriculture, food and aquaculture sectors, the supply of healthy and quality foods for consumers and, consequently, improving the welfare of the population. IRTA is assigned to the Departament d’Agricultura, Ramaderia, Pesca i Alimentació (DARP, Department of Agriculture) of the Generalitat de Catalunya (Government of Catalonia).

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