A global call for global zoonotic TB control and eradication

A group of global stakeholders on zoonotic tuberculosis have published joint policy guidelines to help erradicate the disease.

The global stakeholders on zoonotic TB – the World Health Organisation (WHO), World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) – in collaboration with University of Edinburgh, have for the first time proposed unified recommendations on the control and/or eradication of human tuberculosis caused by Mycobacterium bovis, which is also the causative agent of bovine tuberculosis in cattle.  It is the first time that these three world bodies have come up with a joint policy recommendation for a disease at the human-animal interface.  The recommendations have just been published Lancet Infectious Diseases journal.

These new recommendations follow the efforts that were initiated by the Union’s zoonotic TB sub-section chaired by Adrian Muwonge, a member of the Epidemiology, Economics and Risk Assessment group based at the Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh.

Two years ago we were mandated with developing a global awareness campaign on zoonotic TB, which we have now done.  We are now taking the next steps to ensure that global policy is formulated to cement the foundations this work laid down”.

Dr Adrian Muwonge, EERA Group, The Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh


Earlier on this year the group of experts gathered to draft a list of priority interventions to help control zoonotic tuberculosis.  They devised a ten-point programme Zoonotic TB:  Defining Key Priorities for Action which was then presented to the WHO’s Strategic and Technical Advisory Group in June. 

The new roadmap now lists several short-term recommendations which will mean, if implemented in a multidisciplinary manner, that the global community has a genuine chance to eliminate this elusive disease. 

The recommendations include:

  • developing clear policy guidelines
  • conducting a comprehensive survey of zoonotic TB worldwide
  • expanding and adopting diagnostics for zoonotic TB to generate a representative picture
  • using the generated data as scientific basis to modify local practice and policy, and
  • crucially, sensitizing all stakeholders on how to detect and report cases of zoonotic TB

The first recommendation is already being fulfilled.  A working group has started drafting policy guidelines with the backing WHO’s Strategic and Technical Advisory Group for tuberculosis.

Taken together new recommendations serve as powerful endorsements for the whole of one health medicine – the global stake holders have led by example so it is now up to the global community to follow suit.

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