New tuberculosis tests help to make cow vaccination programs easier and more affordable to implement

Image credit: Vivek Kapur, Penn State

Image credit: Vivek Kapur, Penn State

Problem

How can vaccination programs be made more accessible to prevent tuberculosis transmission in low- and middle-income countries?

  • Tuberculosis (TB) kills more people around the world than any other infectious disease. Infected cattle can be reservoirs for transmission of the disease to humans through the consumption of unpasteurized dairy products and cohabitation.
  • Because the traditional TB test is unable to distinguish infected from vaccinated animals, cattle vaccinations are not commonly practiced. A "test and slaughter" approach is more common but not always feasible where cattle are a primary source of income and nutrition or because of the animal's cultural and spiritual importance.

Findings

An international team of scientists created a novel skin test that can distinguish between cattle that are infected with TB and those that have been vaccinated against the disease.

Impact

The new test enables the implementation of vaccination programs by providing an alternative to more expensive test-and-cull strategies or the use of antibiotics. It is economical, easy to manufacture and standardize, and has the potential to replace the current standard test that has been in use for close to a century.

Research Area: Integrated Health Solutions

Research Credit

Team

  • Vivek Kapur, Sreenidhi Srinivasan, L. Easterling, M. Veerasami, G.Jones, S. Steinbach, T. Holder, M. Vordermeier, A. Zewude, A. Fromsa, G. Ameni, D. Bakker, N. Juleff, G. Gifford, R. G. Hewinson

Partners

  • The Huck Institutes at Penn State; Cisgen Biotech Discoveries Private Limited; University of Aberystwyth, United Kingdom; Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia; World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), France; United Kingdom Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Competitive Funding

  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, United Kingdom Department for International Development

Federal and State Appropriations

  • USDA NIFA Hatch Multistate Project PEN04637, Accession #1014673

Published Research

A defined antigen skin test for the diagnosis of bovine tuberculosis

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Office for Research and Graduate Education

Address

217 Agricultural Administration Building
University Park, PA 16802-2600