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Tracing cross species transmission of Mycobacterium bovis at the wildlife/livestock interface in South Africa

Sichewo P.R., Hlokwe T., Etter E., Michel A.L.. 2020. BMC Microbiology, 20 : 9 p..

DOI: 10.1186/s12866-020-01736-4

Background: Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) affects cattle and wildlife in South Africa with the African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) as the principal maintenance host. The presence of a wildlife maintenance host at the wildlife/livestock interface acting as spill-over host makes it much more challenging to control and eradicate bTB in cattle. Spoligotyping and mycobacterial interspersed repetitive unit-variable number of tandem repeat (MIRU-VNTR) genotyping methods were performed to investigate the genetic diversity of Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis) isolates from cattle and wildlife, their distribution and transmission at the wildlife/livestock interface in northern Kwa-Zulu Natal (KZN), South Africa. Results: SB0130 was identified as the dominant spoligotype pattern at this wildlife/livestock interface, while VNTR typing revealed a total of 29 VNTR profiles (strains) in the KZN province signifying high genetic variability. The detection of 5 VNTR profiles shared between cattle and buffalo suggests M. bovis transmission between species. MIRU-VNTR confirmed co-infection in one cow with three strains of M. bovis that differed at a single locus, with 2 being shared with buffalo, implying pathogen introduction from most probably unrelated wildlife sources. Conclusion: Our findings highlight inter and intra species transmission of bTB at the wildlife/livestock interface and the need for the implementation of adequate bTB control measures to mitigate the spread of the pathogen responsible for economic losses and a public health threat.

Mots-clés : animal sauvage; bétail; contrôle de maladies; transmission des maladies; tuberculose; syncerus caffer; mycobacterium bovis; afrique du sud; tuberculose bovine

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