Posted: March 2, 2020

A new bovine tuberculosis test may improve vaccination programs throughout the world.

Skin tests that can distinguish between cattle that are infected with tuberculosis (TB) and those that have been vaccinated against the disease have been created by an international team of scientists.

The traditional TB tuberculin skin test shows a positive result for cows that have the disease as well as those that have been vaccinated against the disease. By distinguishing between these two groups, the new tests will facilitate the implementation of vaccination programs that could considerably reduce the transmission of this infectious bacterial disease from cattle to cattle and humans.

"TB kills more people globally than any other infectious disease. In fact, three people die every minute from the disease," said Vivek Kapur, professor of microbiology and infectious diseases and Huck Distinguished Chair in Global Health.

Sreenidhi Srinivasan, graduate student in molecular, cellular, and integrative biosciences, noted that the team's novel diagnostic test has the potential to replace the current standard test that has been in use for close to a century now. She said, "Access to such tests pave the way for implementation of vaccination as an intervention strategy in settings where test-and-cull strategies are not affordable for socioeconomic reasons."

--Sara LaJeunesse