Wild Boar Tuberculosis in Iberian Atlantic Spain: a Different Picture from Mediterranean Habitats

Wild boar in the Atlantic region are less likely to excrete Mycobacterium tuberculosis than those in Mediterranean areas, according to new research from Spain.
calendar icon 25 September 2013
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Infections with Mycobacterium bovis and closely related members of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTC) are shared between livestock, wildlife and sporadically human beings. Wildlife reservoirs exist worldwide and can interfere with bovine tuberculosis (TB) eradication efforts, according to Marta Muñoz-Mendoza (Servicio de Sanidad Animal, Consejería de Medio Rural y de Mar in Santiago de Compostela) and coauthors from other institutes across Spain in a paper in BMC Veterinary Research.

They go on to explain that the Eurasian wild boar (Sus scrofa) is a MTC maintenance host in Mediterranean Iberia (Spain and Portugal). However, few systematic studies in wild boar have been carried out in Atlantic regions. They describe the prevalence, distribution, pathology and epidemiology of MTC and other mycobacteria from wild boar in Atlantic Spain.

A total of 2,067 wild boar were sampled between 2008 and 2012.

The results provide insight into the current status of wild boar as MTC and Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) hosts in temperate regions of continental Europe.

The main findings were a low TB prevalence (2.6 per cent), a low proportion of MTC infected wild boar displaying generalised TB lesions (16.7 per cent), and a higher proportion of MAC infections (4.5 per cent).

Molecular typing revealed epidemiological links between wild boar and domestic – cattle, sheep and goat – and other wildlife – Eurasian badger (Meles meles) and red fox (Vulpes vulpes) – hosts.

This study shows that the likelihood of MTC excretion by wild boar in Atlantic habitats is much lower than in Mediterranean areas, concluded Muñoz-Mendoza and co-authors. However, they add, wild boar provide a good indicator of MTC circulation and, given the current re-emergence of animal TB, similar large-scale surveys would be advisable in other Atlantic regions of continental Europe.


Muñoz-Mendoza M., N. Marreros, M. Boadella, C. Gortázar, S. Menéndez, L. de Juan, J. Bezos, B. Romero, M.F. Copano, J. Amado, J.L. Sáez, J. Mourelo and A. Balseiro. 2013. Wild boar tuberculosis in Iberian Atlantic Spain: a different picture from Mediterranean habitats. BMC Veterinary Research. 9:176. doi:10.1186/1746-6148-9-176

Further Reading

You can view the full report by clicking here.
Find out more about tuberculosis in pigs by clicking here.

September 2013

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