Diagnosis of tuberculosis in wildlife: a systematic review

Veterinary Research


Animal tuberculosis (TB) is a multi-host disease caused by members of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTC). Due to its impact on economy, sanitary standards of milk and meat industry, public health and conservation, TB control is an actively ongoing research subject. Several wildlife species are involved in the maintenance and transmission of TB, so that new approaches to wildlife TB diagnosis have gained relevance in recent years. Diagnosis is a paramount step for screening, epidemiological investigation, as well as for ensuring the success of control strategies such as vaccination trials. This is the first review that systematically addresses data available for the diagnosis of TB in wildlife following the Preferred Reporting Items of Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. The article also gives an overview of the factors related to host, environment, sampling, and diagnostic techniques which can affect test performance. After three screenings, 124 articles were considered for systematic review. Literature indicates that post-mortem examination and culture are useful methods for disease surveillance, but immunological diagnostic tests based on cellular and humoral immune response detection are gaining importance in wildlife TB diagnosis. Among them, serological tests are especially useful in wildlife because they are relatively inexpensive and easy to perform, facilitate large-scale surveillance and can be used both ante- and post-mortem. Currently available studies assessed test performance mostly in cervids, European badgers, wild suids and wild bovids. Research to improve diagnostic tests for wildlife TB diagnosis is still needed in order to reach accurate, rapid and cost-effective diagnostic techniques adequate to a broad range of target species and consistent over space and time to allow proper disease monitoring.

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