A plan to stamp out animal TB

The first-ever roadmap to combat animal tuberculosis (bovine TB) and its transmission to humans, referred to as zoonotic TB, was recently launched at the 48th Union World Conference on Lung Health in Guadalajara, Mexico. The roadmap has been built on a ‘One Health Approach’, addressing health risks across sectors for the animal tuberculosis known as bovine TB and its transmission to humans.

Four partners in health, the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) and the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) have joined forces to develop the roadmap and, address the major health and economic impact of this disease.

New data released by the WHO estimates that over 140,000 people fall ill and more than 12,000 people lose their lives each year to zoonotic TB – mostly in the African and the South-East Asian regions.

In India, consumption of raw milk and living in close proximity to cattle has been attributed to high incidence rates of bovine TB in the central Indian populations.

There is no cure for bovine TB and it threatens the animal welfare and those with livelihoods based on livestock.

About Zoonotic TB:

It is a type of TB in people caused by Mycobacterium bovis. The disease can affect many other species surrounding cattle and become established in wildlife reservoirs.

Spread: Bovine TB is most often communicated to humans through food consumption, usually non-heat-treated dairy products or raw, or improperly cooked meat from diseased animals. Direct transmission from infected animals or animal products to people can also occur.

There is no cure for bovine TB and it threatens the animal welfare and those with livelihoods based on livestock.

Preventing and controlling bovine TB at its animal source is crucial to avoid its transmission to humans, improve food safety and protect the livelihood of many rural communities. To this aim, the implementation of strategies based on international standards and a cross-sectoral approach will enable improved surveillance and diagnosis of the disease in animals and consequently reduce the risks for humans.

For countries to achieve the global TB elimination targets, interventions addressing zoonotic TB must be introduced in the national programmes.

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