TB in Cattle: Reducing the Risk (PB4516)

What is tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis in cattle is caused by the bacterium, Mycobacterium bovis, one of a family of bacteria which also cause Johnes disease in cattle and leprosy in people.

M. bovis has been found in several wild mammal species and in cats. It also infects people. Nowadays nearly all of human TB is caused by a different organism, but in the past M. bovis was a major cause of death in people in Britain.

Animals are probably more likely to be infected by M. bovis when they are poorly-nourished or under stress. When they are infectious they may pass the bacterium on in a number of ways - in their breath, saliva, urine or droppings. M. bovis can survive in the environment for several months, especially in moist, mild places like ill-ventilated cattle sheds.

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