The burden of mycobacterial disease in Ethiopian cattle: Implications for public health

Stefan Berg, Rebuma Firdessa, Meseret Habtamu, Endalamaw Gadisa, Araya Mengistu, Lawrence Yamuah, Gobena Ameni, Martin Vordermeier, Brian D. Robertson, Noel H. Smith, Howard Engers, Douglas Young, R. Glyn Hewinson, Abraham Aseffa, Stephen V. Gordon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Bovine tuberculosis (bTB), caused by Mycobacterium bovis, is a debilitating disease of cattle. Ethiopia has one of the largest cattle populations in the world, with an economy highly dependent on its livestock. Furthermore, Ethiopia has one of the highest incidence rates of human extrapulmonary TB in the world, a clinical presentation that is often associated with transmission of M. bovis from cattle to humans. Methodology/Principal Findings: Here we present a comprehensive investigation of the prevalence of bTB in Ethiopia based on cases identified at slaughterhouses. Out of approximately 32,800 inspected cattle, ∼4.7% showed suspect tuberculous lesions. Culture of suspect lesions yielded acid-fast bacilli in ∼11% of cases, with M. bovis accounting for 58 of 171 acid-fast cultures, while 53 isolates were non-tuberculous mycobacteria. Strikingly, M. tuberculosis was isolated from eight cattle, an unusual finding that suggests human to animal transmission. Conclusions/Significance: Our analysis has revealed that bTB is widely spread throughout Ethiopia, albeit at a low prevalence, and provides underpinning evidence for public health policy formulation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere5068
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 7 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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