Mycobacterium bovis is the causative agent of tuberculosis in animals and has one of the broadest host ranges of any pathogen. Mycobacterium bovis can cause tuberculosis in humans clinically indistinguishable from that caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. In the early 20th century, public health concerns posed by transmission of M. bovis from cattle to humans, through consumption of contaminated milk or meat, prompted the United States, and other countries, to implement national programs to eradicate tuberculosis from cattle. Efforts have centered on slaughter of cattle reacting positively to a tuberculin skin test, and most eradication campaigns have been successful in decreasing the prevalence of bovine tuberculosis. However, some countries have found it impossible to eradicate bovine tuberculosis due to the presence of a wildlife reservoir of M. bovis. In most cases, wildlife originally acquired tuberculosis from cattle; however, the disease is now spilling back from wildlife to cattle, impeding the progress of eradication.
Last date updated on June, 2014