Factors that Influence Mycobacterium bovis Infection in Red Deer and Wild Boar in an Epidemiological Risk Area for Tuberculosis of Game Species in Portugal

S Madeira, A Manteigas, R Ribeiro, J Otte, A Pina Fonseca, P Caetano, D Abernethy, F Boinas
Transboundary and Emerging Diseases 2017, 64 (3): 793-804
Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is a worldwide zoonotic disease of domestic and wild animals. Eradication has proved elusive in those countries with intensive national programmes but with ongoing transmission between wildlife and cattle. In Portugal, a high-risk area for bTB was defined and specific measures implemented to assess and minimize the risk from wildlife. Data from the 2011 to 2014 hunting seasons for red deer (Cervus elaphus) and wild boar (Sus scrofa) were analysed with bovine demographic and bTB information to assess factors that determined the occurrence and distribution of bTB in both species. The likelihood of bTB-like lesions in wild boar was positively associated with density of red deer, wild boar and cattle, while for red deer, only their density and age were significant factors. The likelihood of Mycobacterium bovis isolation in wild boar was associated with density of cattle and red deer and also with the anatomical location of lesions, while for red deer, none of the variables tested were statistically significant. Our results suggest that, in the study area, the role of red deer and wild boar may be different from the one previously suggested by other authors for the Iberian Peninsula, as red deer may be the driving force behind M. bovis transmission to wild boar. These findings may assist the official services and game managing bodies for the management of hunting zones, what could also impact the success of the bTB eradication programme.

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