Investigating transmission of Mycobacterium bovis in the UK, 2005-2008.

Snigdhendu Mandal, L Bradshaw, LF Anderson, T Brown, Jason Evans, F Drobniewski, G Smith, JG Magee, A Barrett, O Blatchford, IF Laurenson, AL Seagar, M Ruddy, PL White, R Myers, Peter Hawkey, I Abubakar

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28 Citations (Scopus)


Due to an increase in bovine tuberculosis in UK cattle, we investigated the characteristics of human Mycobacterium bovis cases and assessed whether extensive transmission of M. bovis between humans has occurred. A cross-sectional study linking demographic, clinical, and DNA fingerprinting (using 15 loci MIRU-VNTR) data on cases reported between 2005 and 2008 was undertaken. 129 human M. bovis cases were reported over the period, with a decrease in annual incidence from 0.065 to 0.047 cases per 100,000 persons. Most cases were born pre-1960 before widespread pasteurisation was introduced (73%), of White ethnicity (83%), and UK-born (76%). 102 cases (79%) had MIRU-VNTR typing data. 31 of 69 complete MIRU-VNTR profiles formed eight distinct clusters. The overall clustering proportion using the n-1 method was 33%. The largest cluster of 12 cases was indistinguishable from a previously reported West Midlands outbreak strain and included those cases. This cluster was heterogeneous, having characteristics supporting recent zoonotic and human to human transmission as well as reactivation of latent disease. Seven other smaller clusters identified had demographics supporting recrudescence rather than recent infection. 33 cases had incomplete MIRU-VNTR profiles, of which 11 may have yielded 2-6 further small clusters if typed to completion. The incidence of M. bovis in humans in the UK remains low and the epidemiology is predominantly that of reactivated disease.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2011


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