Mycobacterium bovis in Panama, 2013 - Volume 21, Number 6—June 2015 - Emerging Infectious Disease journal - CDC
Volume 21, Number 6—June 2015
Mycobacterium bovis in Panama, 2013
Zoonotic tuberculosis (TB) is a chronic infectious disease of humans caused by transmission of Mycobacterium bovis from cattle (1). M. bovis infection in humans occurs after direct contact with infected cattle, ingestion of unpasteurized dairy products or raw or undercooked meat, or (rarely) person-to-person transmission (2). Despite the low incidence of zoonotic tuberculosis in the Americas, accumulating evidence confirms that death rates from M. bovis pulmonary infection in specific groups and settings, including in the United States and Mexico, are substantial (3,4). The risk for death is twice as high for children and persons with HIV co-infection and extrapulmonary TB than for HIV-negative persons with TB (3). M. bovis infection in cattle (bovine TB) has a major effect on meat and live animal export trade and dairy industry development and expansion (1). Thus, bovine TB eradication plans across the Americas are based on the elimination of any cattle with a positive tuberculin skin test (TST) result (5).
The most recently reported bovine TB outbreak in Panama occurred in 1997 in the western province of Bocas del Toro. The origin of this outbreak remains unclear. Since 2008 (after the slaughter of ≈7,000 cattle during the 1997 outbreak), Panama has not reported any bovine TB cases to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) (Figure 1) (6). However, Panama has not received bovine TB-free accreditation. OIE data show that clinical bovine TB was continually reported from Colombia and Costa Rica during the same period (6).
In August 2013, despite active surveillance at country borders and in-country animal health controls, a new bovine TB outbreak in Panama was reported to OIE (6). Neither the neighboring countries of Colombia and Costa Rica nor Panama have reported zoonotic tuberculosis to OIE in the past 20 years (4,7). Among these countries, only Costa Rica does not test M. tuberculosis complex isolates to identify M. bovis. In contrast, Guatemala continually reports cases of zoonotic TB (6). Yet, the genetic biodiversity of M. bovis in Central America remains unexplored. Comparisons of mycobacterial interspersed repetitive unit–variable-number tandem-repeat (MIRU-VNTR) and single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) analyses based on whole-genome sequencing have proven to be helpful for identifying TB outbreaks elsewhere (8,9). We characterized and genotyped M. bovis isolates that reemerged in Panama during the 2013 outbreak of bovine TB.
Mr. Acosta is a visiting young scientist at the Tuberculosis Biomarker Research Unit of Instituto de Investigaciones Científicas y Servicios de Alta Tecnología, Ciudad del Saber, Panama. His research focuses on detection identification and genotyping of Mycobacterium spp. and the role of the interferon-gamma release assay in eradicating bovine TB.
We thank Inversiones para el Desarrollo de Coclé S. A. for providing access to the cattle herd for this research and for providing the commercial diagnostic kits. We also thank Alfonso Nuñez, Romel Rosas, and. Leonidas Mendieta for their valuable support during diagnoses and postmortem evaluations. We appreciate the help of Colleen Goodridge in manuscript editing.
This study was partially funded by the Tuberculosis Biomarkers grant IDR10-067 from Secretaría Nacional de Ciencia Tecnología e Innovación, the fellowship program Secretaría Nacional de Ciencia Tecnología e Innovación –Ministerio de Economía y Finanzas–Chile, and the St. Petersburg State University grant no 126.96.36.1995.
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Suggested citation for this article: Acosta F, Chernyaeva E, Mendoza L, Sambrano D, Correa R, Rotkevich M, et al. Mycobacterium bovis in Panama, 2013. Emerg Infect Dis. 2015 Jun [date cited]. http://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid2106.141821