Charles O. Thoen Iowa State University

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Tuberculosis and other Mycobacterial Infections

Publish Date: October 29, 2013

Tuberculosis or mycobacterial disease (Tb) is reported in about 0.4% of all swine slaughtered under Federal inspection (based on reports from United States Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service [USDA] and probably costs the swine industry an estimated $7.3 million annually. This is not a large amount compared to losses from other swine diseases. Although there are relatively few commercial herds infected with TB, the economic losses can be devastating to those producers that have the disease in their herds. The disease in swine has no apparent effect on the health of the animal. Lack of transmission of the disease from swine to humans cannot be proven. Therefore, USDA meat inspection regulations formulated in 1972 call for special handling of carcasses in which evidence of lesions containing acid fast bacteria are found. Economic losses occur to the swine industry because of these regulations. Tuberculosis has been nearly eliminated in cattle and poultry. Tuberculin testing of cattle with subsequent slaughter of reactors and in some cases depopulation of entire herds, has lowered the prevalence of the disease to about 0.0001% (USDA, 2010 records) in slaughter cattle., The poultry industry has changed to all-pullet flocks and has essentially eliminated Tb. Elimination of older birds over a year of age has been an effective control measure. The rate of condemnation for Tb is 0.0001% in light fowl (USDA, 2011 records). It has been assumed by many that eradication of Tb from cattle and chickens would ultimately lead to its eradication in swine. This has not occurred and mycobacterial infections in swine remain a problem for pork producers.

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