Risk factors analysis and implications for public health of bovine tuberculosis in the highlands of Cameroon
Bovine tuberculosis (TB) is a neglected zoonosis of cattle that is prevalent but under-investigated in Cameroon. Based on epidemiological data of the disease, this study was designed to assess the risks and public health implications for zoonotic M. bovis infection in cattle and humans in the highlands of Cameroon. Evidence of bovine TB in cattle in the study region was confirmed by the following surveys: abattoir slaughter meat inspection and TB lesion detection rates of 0.20% – 1.69% (over 60.94% of all pathologies that warranted partial or whole carcass condemnation were due to TB lesions); seroprevalence rates of 37.17% and comparative cervical tuberculin test estimations of 4.67% – 7.15%, 12.02% – 15.67% and 20.56% – 24.98% at the ≥ 4mm, ≥ 3mm and ≥ 2mm cut off points, respectively. Genomic deletion analysis of cultured isolates showed evidence of M. tuberculosis from suspected cattle tissue and M. bovis from infected human sputa while spoligotyping identified five cattle M. bovis strains including four unique spoligotype patterns that had not been previously described. The study revealed that the presence of infected animals, age, sex, breed and husbandry practices served as significant (P<0.05) risks to the prevalence and exposure of bovine TB in cattle. The feedbacks from cattle professionals suggested that there was high possibility of cattle to cattle and cattle to human transmission of bovine TB through intimate and repeated cattle / cattle and cattle / human interactions, unawareness of TB control measures, consuming unpasteurised milk and eating raw meat. The findings of this study have important public health implications requiring prompt and decisive actions from the Cameroonian authority towards controlling zoonotic bovine TB in both humans and animals.
Keywords: Bovine tuberculosis, epidemiology, risk factors analysis, public health implications, Cameroon