Bovine tuberculosis (bTB), caused by Mycobacterium bovis, is a disease of zoonotic concern, especially in countries with no control programs in livestock and where routine pasteurization of milk is not practiced. In Tanzania, bTB is widespread in livestock and has been diagnosed in humans; however, herd bTB testing is primarily carried out for bTB-free certification in commercial dairy herds at the expense of the dairy cattle owner. For rural livestock holders, such an expense is prohibitive, and consequently there is no control of bTB in most areas. Although effective long-term solutions to control bTB in livestock are desirable, there is a need to assess the effect of preventive measures on reducing human exposure to bTB in such settings. We utilized locally relevant cattle herd characteristics and management data from the Health for Animals and Livelihood Improvement (HALI) project in south-central Tanzania to build a Reed-Frost model that compared the efficacy of alternative methods aimed at reducing the exposure of humans to infectious milk from a typical pastoralist cattle herd. During a 10-year simulation period, the model showed that boiling milk 80% of the time is necessary to obtain a reduction in liters of infectious milk approximately equivalent to what would be obtained with a standard 2-year testing and removal regimen, and that boiling milk was more effective than animal test and removal early in the time period.In addition, even with testing and removing infected cattle, a residual risk of exposure to infectious milk remained due to imperfect sensitivity of the skin test and a continuous risk of introduction of infectious animals from other herds. The model was sensitive to changes in initial bTB prevalence but not to changes in herd size. In conclusion, continuous complimentary treatment of milk may be an effective strategy to reduce human exposure to M. bovis-infected milk in settings where bTB is endemic and a comprehensive bTB control program is yet to be implemented.
- Bovine tuberculosis