TB partners launch first roadmap to address transmission of bovine and zoonotic tuberculosis

The first-ever roadmap to combat animal tuberculosis (bovine TB) and its transmission to humans  - a condition known as zoonotic TB) - was launched today at the 48th Union World Conference on Lung Health.

New data released by the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over 140,000 people fall ill and more than 12,000 people lose their lives each year to zoonotic TB – mostly in the African and the South-East Asian regions.

The disease also represents a major threat to livelihoods. Bovine TB can lay waste to cattle, resulting in major economic and trade barriers, as well as posing a major risk to food safety and human health.

Speaking at the press conference, Dr Paula Fujiwara, The Union’s Scientific Director, said, “This multidisciplinary roadmap represents a milestone in the fight against TB in both people and animals.

“Better technologies, better science and better governance for affected communities bearing the bovine TB burden in poorer rural areas must become the new mantra if we are to get on the path to eliminating TB everywhere”.

Hannah Monica Dias, Communications Officer, WHO, said: “We hope this roadmap will shine a spotlight on zoonotic TB, an issue that has long been neglected. It is because this disease is largely under the radar that the need for a multi-sectoral approach is needed.”

Earlier in the week and, as a pre-cursor to the World Conference, a group of invited international journalists visited a cheese factory and a slaughterhouse in the Jalisco region of Mexico. Both visits were an opportunity to see first-hand the rigorous production processes and health and safety measures that these industries must adhere to, in order to minimise the risk to human health through consumption of contaminated untreated meat or dairy products from diseased animals.

The zoonotic TB roadmap identifies 10 essential action points which include improving the evidence base through systematic surveys, analysis and reporting; reducing transmission between animals and humans, looking at areas of food safety and identification of key populations; and strengthening intersectoral collaboration, with increased awareness and wider stakeholder engagement. Download the Zoonotic TB Roadmap here

The Zoonotic TB Roadmap is a collaboration between four partners in health: the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) and the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union).