, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 139-149,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 17 Apr 2012

Zoonotic Transmission of Tuberculosis Between Pastoralists and Their Livestock in South-East Ethiopia


Despite huge global efforts in tuberculosis (TB) control, pastoral areas remain under-investigated. During two years sputum and fine needle aspirate (FNA) specimens were collected from 260 Ethiopian pastoralists of Oromia and Somali Regional States with suspected pulmonary TB and from 32 cases with suspected TB lymphadenitis. In parallel, 207 suspected tuberculous lesions were collected from cattle, camels and goats at abattoirs. All specimens were processed and cultured for mycobacteria; samples with acid-fast stained bacilli (AFB) were further characterized by molecular methods including genus and deletion typing as well as spoligotyping. Non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) were sequenced at the 16S rDNA locus. Culturing of AFB from human sputum and FNA samples gave a yield of 174 (67%) and 9 (28%) isolates, respectively. Molecular typing was performed on 173 of these isolates and 160 were confirmed as Mycobacterium tuberculosis, three as M. bovis, and the remaining 10 were typed as NTMs. Similarly, 48 AFB isolates (23%) yielded from tuberculous lesions of livestock, of which 39 were molecular typed, including 24 M. bovis and 4 NTMs from cattle, 1 M. tuberculosis and 1 NTM from camels and 9 NTMs from goats. Isolation of M. bovis from humans and M. tuberculosis from livestock suggests transmission between livestock and humans in the pastoral areas of South-East Ethiopia