Veterinary Research Communications

, Volume 43, Issue 3, pp 155–164 | Cite as

Prevalence of Mycobacterium bovis infection in traditionally managed cattle at the wildlife-livestock interface in South Africa in the absence of control measures

  • Petronillah Rudo SichewoEmail author
  • Eric Marcel Charles Etter
  • Anita Luise Michel
Original Article


Cattle are the domestic animal reservoir for Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis) which also affects other domestic animals, several wildlife species and humans leading to tuberculosis. The study area is in a resource-poor community that is surrounded by several game parks, where M. bovis infection has been previously diagnosed in wildlife. A cross-sectional study was carried out to determine the prevalence of M. bovis infection in 659 cattle from a total of 192 traditionally managed herds using the BOVIGAM® interferon gamma assay (IFN-γ). Infection was confirmed by post mortem examination and M. bovis isolation from three test-positive cattle. Genotyping of the M. bovis isolates was done using spoligotyping and VNTR (variable number of tandem repeats typing). The apparent M. bovis prevalence rate in cattle at animal level was 12% with a true population prevalence of 6% (95% Confidence interval (C.I) 3.8 to 8.1) and a herd prevalence of 28%. Spoligotyping analysis revealed that the M. bovis isolates belonged to spoligotype SB0130 and were shared with wildlife. Three VNTR profiles were identified among the SB0130 isolates from cattle, two of which had previously been detected in buffalo in a game reserve adjacent to the study area. The apparent widespread presence of M. bovis in the cattle population raises a serious public health concern and justifies further investigation into the risk factors for M. bovis transmission to cattle and humans. Moreover, there is an urgent need for effective bTB control measures to reduce infection in the communal cattle and prevent its spread to uninfected herds.


Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) Cattle Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis) Wildlife-livestock interface 



We acknowledge the support of Warren McCall, Alicia McCall, and Simon Mkwamubi in the fieldwork as well as all the Veterinary Officers from the Big 5 False Bay Office (Department of Agriculture and Rural Development). We are also indebted to all the cattle owners who gave us permission to use their animals in the study.

Author’s contribution

Conceptualization of the study, methodology, interpretation of the data and the writing of the manuscript-Anita Michel, Eric Etter, Petronillah Sichewo.

Investigation, sample collection and laboratory work-Anita Michel, Petronillah Sichewo.

Data analysis: Eric Etter, Petronillah Sichewo.

Funding acquisition: Anita Michel.

Supervision: Anita Michel, Eric Etter.

All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


This work was partially supported by the Grant or Cooperative Agreement Number, [5 NU2GGH001874–02-00], funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Department of Health and Human Services.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical consideration

This study was carried out with approval from the University of Pretoria –Animal Ethics Committee (V078–16) and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries under The Section 20 (12/11/1/1/6/1). Verbal and oral consent through signed forms was given by the farmers.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Veterinary Tropical Diseases, Bovine Tuberculosis and Brucellosis Research Programme, Faculty of Veterinary SciencesUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of Animal Sciences, Faculty of Natural Resources Management and AgricultureMidlands State UniversityGweruZimbabwe
  3. 3.Department of Production Animal Studies, Faculty of Veterinary SciencesUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa
  4. 4.CIRAD, UMR Animal, Santé, Territoires, Risque et Ecosystèmes (ASTRE)MontpellierFrance
  5. 5.ASTRE, Univ Montpellier, CIRAD, INRAMontpellierFrance
  6. 6.Research Associate at the National Zoological Gardens of South AfricaPretoriaSouth Africa

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