Despite the important role of goats for meat and milk production in Ethiopia, little information is available on the epidemiology of caprine tuberculosis (TB). Caprine TB is important as milk is usually consumed raw particularly by Ethiopian pastoralists. The objectives of the present study were to estimate the prevalence of TB in goats at an abattoir, to evaluate associated risk factors and to characterize the causative mycobacteria. A cross-sectional study was conducted on 1990 randomly selected male goats that were slaughtered at Luna Export Abattoir of central Ethiopia. Postmortem examination, mycobacterial culturing and molecular typing techniques like genus typing, deletion typing and spoligotyping were used. The overall prevalence of caprine TB-like lesions was 3.5%. The lesion prevalence increased significantly with increasing age. Mycobacteria were found by culture and seen as acid fast bacilli in 12% of the goats with TB-like lesions. Characterization of the eight isolates using multiplex polymerase chain reaction (PCR) indicated that five of them belonged to the genus Mycobacterium. Four of the latter were confirmed to be members of the M. tuberculosis complex. Further characterization of the three M. tuberculosis isolates by spoligotyping identified them as type SIT53 and two new spoligotypes. The isolation of M. tuberculosis from goats in this study indicates a potential risk of transmission of M. tuberculosis between humans and goats.
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