Spillover of Mycobacterium bovis from wildlife to livestock, South Africa

Bovine tuberculosis is an infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium bovis. The wide host range of the pathogen comprises humans and domestic and wild animals. Great strides in controlling bovine tuberculosis have drastically reduced its prevalence in livestock and humans, particularly in industrialized countries. However, in developing countries in southern Africa and elsewhere, bovine tuberculosis remains a challenge to animal health because of a total or partial lack of bovine tuberculosis control, limited by a lack of funds.

The control and/or elimination of bovine tuberculosis in both developing and industrialized countries can be complicated by wildlife reservoirs of the disease, which pose a threat of re-infection in livestock. In sub-Saharan Africa, particularly South Africa and Uganda, African buffalos (Syncerus caffer) serve as wildlife reservoirs of bovine tuberculosis; in Zambia, lechwe antelopes (Kobus leche Kafuensis) have been identified as wildlife reservoirs. New reports have suggested greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) and common warthog (Phacochoerus africanus) as potential wildlife reservoirs of bovine tuberculosis.

M. bovis is endemic in buffaloes and has spilled into other wildlife species, particularly in the Kruger National Park (KNP) and adjacent game reserves that form part of the Greater Kruger National Park Complex (GKNPC) in South Africa. Except for data from sporadic regulatory bovine tuberculosis surveillance activities in cattle adjacent to the GKNPC, no data exist on the transmission of bovine tuberculosis from the GKNPC, where it is endemic, into livestock in neighboring communities. Because of the potentially negative implications of livestock–wildlife interactions on livestock and human health, the presence and role of zoonotic diseases in these communities needs to be investigated.

We report on an investigation into the status and genotype of bovine tuberculosis in livestock in rural communities bordering the bovine tuberculosis–endemic GKNPC. The study was conducted in a rural community under the Mnisi Tribal Authority. The community is situated in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa, and borders the GKNPC in the west and 1 private game reserve. We constructed maps for this study using ArcGIS version 10.2 ( The KNP and private game reserves are fenced and have buffer zones established by double fencing. Emerging Infectious Diseases Original web page at Emerging Infectious Diseases