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1.  Mycobacterium bovis infections in slaughter pigs in Mubende district, Uganda: a public health concern 
Background
Bovine tuberculosis (TB) caused by Mycobacterium bovis is primarily a disease of ruminants, particularly cattle (Bos primigenius) and buffalo (Syncerus caffer), and is endemic in most developing countries. To date, studies done in Uganda have documented the prevalence of M. bovis in cattle, humans and wild life, in addition to non-tuberculous mycobacteria in pigs. Pigs are increasingly becoming an important component of the livestock sector and share the human ecosystem in rural Uganda. It is therefore of public health interest that they are not a source of human infections. As a follow up to previously published findings on mycobacteria in pigs, this study was aimed at investigating the occurrence and molecular characteristics of M. bovis detected in slaughter pigs in Mubende district, Uganda. One hundred fifty mesenteric lymph nodes with lesions suggestive of mycobacterial infections were collected from approximately one thousand slaughtered pigs in Mubende district over a period of five months. The isolation and identification of M. bovis was done using conventional mycobacteriological methods. Mycobacteria belonging to the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTC) were identified to species level using deletion analysis. Molecular typing was done using Spoligotyping and MIRU-VNTR analysis. Molecular data were analysed and interpreted using MIRU-VNTR plus, SpolDB4.0 and the Mycobacterium bovis spoligo database.
Results
Of the examined animals, one boar and two sows from Madudu Sub County were infected with M. bovis which presented as lesions of a deep yellow colour and a grit-like texture in the mesenteric lymph nodes. This represents 2% (3/150) of the lymph nodes where lesions suggestive of mycobacterial infections were detected. Molecular analysis revealed that the isolates from the infected pigs showed identical MIRU-VNTR profile and spoligotype (SB1469).
Conclusions
This is the first study documenting the occurrence of M. bovis in slaughter pigs in Uganda, revealing that one in fifty slaughter pigs with suspected lesions in mesenteric lymph nodes were infected. Molecular analysis revealed that the isolates were identical, showing a spoligotype previously reported from humans and cattle in the north eastern part of the Uganda cattle corridor. This finding is of public health importance, therefore there is a need for close cooperation between medical and veterinary professionals in designing and implementing control and prevention measures that safeguard the public from this potential source of zoonotic TB in Uganda.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-8-168
PMCID: PMC3526550  PMID: 22999303
Pigs; Spoligotype; MIRU-VNTR; M. bovis; Uganda
2.  Non-tuberculous mycobacteria isolated from slaughter pigs in Mubende district, Uganda 
Background
The importance of infections caused by non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) in animals and humans has gained considerable recognition during the past few years. In the developed world, where pig production is extensively practiced, studies on mycobacterial infections and related control strategies have received increasing attention. The infections are reported to be caused by a wide spectrum of NTM. Unfortunately, these infections have been less recognized in sub-Saharan Africa owing to lack of awareness and systematic studies. In this study we aimed at isolating and identifying species of mycobacteria involved in causing infections in slaughter pigs in Mubende district of Uganda. Furthermore we wanted to identify factors associated with infection prevalence in the study area.
Methods
A total of 363 lymph nodes were collected and cultured for the presence of mycobacteria. Isolates were identified by 16S rDNA gene sequencing. A questionnaire survey was administered to identify production related factors associated with infection prevalence. Data were assembled and analysed using descriptive statistics and mixed effects logistic regression analysis.
Results
Mycobacteria were detected in 39 % (143/363) of the examined lymph nodes, 63 % (59/93) of lymph nodes with gross lesions typical of mycobacteriosis and 31% (84/270) of lymph nodes with no visible lesions. Nineteen per cent of the isolated mycobacteria were identified as Mycobacterium (M) avium, of these 78% and 22% were M. avium sub sp. Hominissuis and avium respectively. Other mycobacterial species included M. senuense (16%), M. terrae (7%) and M. asiaticum (6%). This study found free range systems (OR = 3.0; P = 0.034) and use of water from valley dams (OR = 2.0; P = 0.049) as factors associated with high prevalence of mycobacteria in slaughter pigs.
Conclusions
This study demonstrated a high prevalence of NTM infections among slaughter pigs in Mubende district of Uganda. M. avium was the most prevalent of all NTM isolated and identified. Free range system of pig management and valley dam water were the most significant factors associated with NTM prevalence in Mubende district. These findings could be of a major public health concern given that it is in a predominantly pork consuming population with 18% HIV/AIDS prevalence. Therefore, stringent post-mortem inspection at the slaughter houses is of paramount importance to reduce human exposure.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-8-52
PMCID: PMC3490772  PMID: 22564290
3.  Evidence of alphaherpesvirus infections in Alaskan caribou and reindeer 
Background
The reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus) industry in Alaska began with animals imported from Siberia (Russia) in the 1890's. Cervid herpes virus 2 (CvHV2) is endemic in reindeer in Scandinavia. We sought to determine if the same virus, or similar herpesviruses, were circulating in Alaskan reindeer and caribou (Rangifer tarandus granti). Serum samples from 292 reindeer were collected during annual reindeer handlings (1988-2005) near Nome, Alaska. In 2005, swab samples were collected from 40 calves from this herd, near Nome, Alaska. In 2007, ocular and nasal swab samples were collected from 30 apparently healthy reindeer calves near Wales, Alaska. Samples of plasma and white blood cells were collected from three Alaskan caribou herds, Mulchatna (n = 24), Teshekpuk (n = 34) and the Western Arctic (n = 87) in 2009.
Results
Of 292 reindeer samples tested by ELISA for antibodies against alphaherpesvirus (bovine herpesvirus 1 as antigen), seroprevalence was 47% (136/292) and adult reindeer had higher seroprevalence than yearlings. The overall seroprevalence for caribou was 60% (87/145), with no significant differences among caribou herds. A virus neutralization test of 20 samples from both reindeer and caribou showed that ELISA positive samples always neutralized CvHV2 to a greater extent than BoHV1 or elk herpesvirus (ElkHV), indicating that CvHv2 is the most likely virus circulating. PCR of nasal and ocular swabs sampled from 30 reindeer calves in Wales, Alaska (2007) yielded four CvHV2 positive samples. PCR amplicons of the expected size (294 bp) were obtained from 2 of the 36 buffy coats samples from caribou, and the amplicon sequences were consistent with CvHV2.
Conclusions
This study shows that Alaskan reindeer and Caribou are infected with an alphaherpesvirus. Based on sequence similarity, CvHV-2 is the most likely virus. Further studies should be conducted to determine the impact of this infection on the health of these animals.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-8-5
PMCID: PMC3274481  PMID: 22243919
caribou; epidemiology; herd health; herpesvirus infectious diseases; reindeer; Rangifer; wildlife medicine
5.  Molecular characterization of Mycobacterium bovis isolates from Ethiopian cattle 
Background
Bovine Tuberculosis (BTB) is a widespread and endemic disease of cattle in Ethiopia. Information relating to genotypic characteristics of Mycobacterium bovis strains affecting the cattle population in Ethiopia is limited. We carried out molecular characterization of M. bovis strains isolated from BTB infected cattle using the spoligotyping technique. The relationship between distribution of spoligotypes and recorded variables was also investigated. A new approach that can numerically reflect the degree of genetic polymorphism in a M. bovis population was also developed. The study was conducted from July 2006 to January 2007 in cattle slaughtered at five representative abattoirs in Ethiopia.
Results
Forty-five M. bovis isolates were obtained from 406 pathologic tissue specimens collected from 337 carcasses with lesions compatible with BTB. Twelve spoligotypes were identified from 34 distinct strains; with SB1176 as a dominant spoligotype (41.2% of the isolates) followed by SB0133 (14.7%). Comparison of spoligotypes with an M. bovis global database http://www.mbovis.org revealed six new spoligotypes which were subsequently registered in the database with international identification codes of SB1517, SB1518, SB1519, SB1520, SB1521 and SB1522. The majority of strains were obtained from cattle slaughtered at Addis Ababa abattoir. On the basis of the Spoligotype Evolutionary Index, SEI (a numeric expression approach to make standardized comparison of spoligotype evolution), M. bovis isolates from Ethiopia were relatively more heterogeneous (SEI = 3.2) compared to isolates from other countries. This might be attributed to extensive livestock movement linked to trading or seasonal migration, high degree of livestock mingling, and also diversities of the country's agricultural and livestock ecosystems, in addition to lack of disease control measures that led to high infection prevalence. Multiple spoligotype infection was recorded in nine (50%) of infected carcasses and this may indicate the prevailing high degree of super infection.
Conclusions
This study provided molecular evidence for the widespread distribution of M. bovis in the cattle population in Ethiopia. It also demonstrated a relatively high degree of genetic polymorphism of the isolates. Further molecular investigation of M. bovis strains in humans and other domestic animals is recommended in order to elucidate the zoonotic importance as well as reservoirs and pattern of transmission among various hosts.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-6-28
PMCID: PMC2886024  PMID: 20507576
6.  Cattle owners' awareness of bovine tuberculosis in high and low prevalence settings of the wildlife-livestock interface areas in Zambia 
Background
Awareness of bovine tuberculosis (BTB) by cattle owners is of extreme importance to policy makers when considering mitigation. However, to our knowledge, little is known on cattle owners' awareness of BTB in Zambia. Similarly, such knowledge is uncommon within and outside Africa. The current study investigates the epidemiological characteristics of BTB in Zambian cattle in relation to awareness by cattle owners in high and low cattle BTB prevalence settings. A cross sectional study was designed and data was gathered based on 106 cattle owners and cattle herds; subjected to an interviewer-administered questionnaire and comparative intradermal tuberculin test using a cut-off for positivity of 4 mm, respectively.
Results
Reported levels of cattle and wildlife contact by respondents was at 40%, 58.2% and 1.8%, were relatively proportional to herd level prevalence of cattle BTB at 64.8%, 58.1% and 5.9% in Blue lagoon, Lochinvar and Kazungula respectively. Although 42/106 (39.6%) of cattle owners had heard of BTB, only 3 (7%) had an idea on how the disease was spread. Cattle contact with wildlife was associated with high levels of awareness by cattle owners (χ2 = 43.5, df = 2, P < 0.001). Awareness of BTB in low prevalence settings was lower compared to high prevalence settings.
Conclusions
Our study has revealed low levels of awareness among cattle owners on BTB. These results could be useful for policy makers when planning mitigation measures to consider awareness levels by cattle owners for effective implementation. Such information is useful for determining sensitisation programs for cattle owners before mitigation. These results further provide useful insights that disease control is a multi-factorial process with cattle owners as an integral part that can support policy implementation.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-6-21
PMCID: PMC2874791  PMID: 20406464

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