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Bovine Tuberculosis

Last reviewed May 2007

Australian situation

Australia is free from Bovine tuberculosis (TB). The last case [1] in cattle was detected in March 2002 and in buffalo in January 2002.

The Brucellosis and Tuberculosis Eradication Campaign (BTEC) was a national program to eradicate bovine brucellosis and bovine tuberculosis that commenced in 1970 after years of local jurisdictional activities. Australia was declared "Impending Free’ for bovine TB on 31 December 1992. A further five years of monitoring passed before Australia met OIE criteria as a country officially free and this was declared on 31 December 1997.

The Tuberculosis Freedom Assurance Program (TFAP) was conducted from 1998 to 2002. TFAP was a national program comprising surveillance and eradication activities, to detect any recrudescence of TB and to ensure that it was promptly and effectively eliminated. Surveillance was based primarily on the examination of animals at slaughter and the submission of any detected granulomas for laboratory examination, as part of the National Granuloma Submission Program (NGSP). Tuberculin field testing was undertaken wherever slaughter data was judged to be inadequate. The last outbreak [2] of TB was detected in cattle in December 2000, and in buffalo in January 2002.

TFAP2 is a four year program that commenced in January 2003 and is essentially a continuation of TFAP. No cases of TB have been detected during TFAP2. After TFAP2, surveillance for TB will continue under the Australian Bovine TB Surveillance Project (ABTBSP) to the end of 2010. Abattoir surveillance for TB, as a part of normal meat inspection at slaughter, will continue to be the mainstay of TB surveillance activities. Further information on TFAP, TFAP2 and the ABTBSP can be found on the Animal Health Australia website.

For general information on managing animal health in Australia, please consult the latest edition of 'Animal Health in Australia'.

This disease is nationally notifiable in Australia. Please consult the National Notifiable Disease List for further information.

A 'Bovine TB Case Response Manual' describing control measures in the event of an outbreak of TB is available on the Animal Health Australia website.

Disease summary

TB in cattle is caused by Mycobacterium bovis. It is a chronic disease that seldom becomes apparent in live animals until it has reached an advanced stage. The disease can be spread to many other species, including humans, by drinking raw (unpasteurised) milk, consuming infected meat or by inhaling bacteria exhaled from an infected animal.

The OIE website provides a link to a 'Disease Card' providing further information.

World distribution

TB occurs in most cattle producing countries of the world. Many countries have control programs for the disease.

More information on this OIE-listed disease, including worldwide disease status and distribution, is available on the OIE Website and the World Animal Health Information Database (WAHID) website.

Surveillance statistics

Information regarding human cases in Australia is collected by the Department of Health and Ageing. Most of the data reported for human cases is due to Mycobacterium tuberculosis. M bovis is a member of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis Complex (MTBC).

Granuloma submission program

Australia was declared free from bovine tuberculosis (TB) on 31 December 1997, exceeding the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) requirements for declaration of country freedom. The last outbreaks of TB were detected in buffalo in January 2002 and in cattle in December 2000, and trace-forward and trace-back slaughter were carried out according to the Tuberculosis Freedom Assurance Program. Meat inspection for granulomas (conducted by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service) has been the primary surveillance activity for bovine TB since 1992. This activity involves the submission of granulomas, found in the head and thorax of slaughtered cattle, for laboratory examination. This table shows the number of granulomas submitted and test results. All Australian laboratories examining granulomas are accredited for veterinary testing by the National Association of Testing Authorities under ISO/IEC 17025. In addition, laboratories approved for culture of Mycobacterium bovis must pass an external quality assurance program run by the Australian reference laboratory for TB on an annual basis.

Results of laboratory examination of granulomas for bovine tuberculosis

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1 These case herds are secondary to the case detected in Queensland in December 2000

2 The last outbreak of bovine tuberculosis in cattle was detected on 11/12/2000. All subsequent bovine case herds are secondary case herds traced and detected over a 15 month period of investigations. The nine case herds yielded 14 confirmed infections: all isolates have been shown to be identical on the basis of current tests (IS-RFLP, PGRS-RFLP, DR-RFLP, Spoligotyping & VNTR).

Page last modified by rachel on March 28, 2011, at 03:57 PM