Diagnosis of mycobacteria in bovine milk: an overview


Rev. Inst. Med. trop. S. Paulo




ABSTRACT Tuberculosis remains as the world’s biggest threat. In 2014, human tuberculosis ranked as a major infectious disease by the first time, overcoming HIV death rates. Bovine tuberculosis is a chronic disease of global distribution that affects animals and can be transmitted to humans by the consumption of raw milk, representing a serious public health concern. Despite the efforts of different countries to control and eradicate bovine tuberculosis, the high negative economic impact on meat and milk production chains remains, given the decreased production efficiency (approximately 25%), the high number of condemned carcasses, and increased animal culling rates. This scenario has motivated the establishment of official programs based on regulations and diagnostic procedures. Although Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Mycobacterium bovis are the major pathogenic species to humans and bovines, respectively, nontuberculous mycobacteria within the Mycobacterium genus have become increasingly important in recent decades due to human infections, including the ones that occur in immunocompetent people. Diagnosis of mycobacteria can be performed by microbiological culture from tissue samples (lymph nodes, lungs) and secretions (sputum, milk). In general, these pathogens demand special nutrient requirements for isolation/growth, and the use of selective and rich culture media. Indeed, within these genera, mycobacteria are classified as either fast- or slow-growth microorganisms. Regarding the latter ones, incubation times can vary from 45 to 90 days. Although microbiological culture is still considered the gold standard method for diagnosis, molecular approaches have been increasingly used. We describe here an overview of the diagnosis of Mycobacterium species in bovine milk.

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