Date of this Version
Bovine tuberculosis (bovine TB), caused by Mycobacterium bovis, has reemerged in northern Michigan, USA, with detections in white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in 1994 and in cattle in 1998. Since then, significant efforts have been directed toward reducing deer densities in the area in the hopes of reducing the bovine TB prevalence rate in deer and eliminating spillover of the disease into cattle. Despite the success of the efforts to reduce deer densities, additional cattle herds have become infected. Other mammals can be infected with M. bovis, and some carnivores and omnivores had been found to be infected with the disease in northern Michigan, USA. We conducted a multiyear surveillance effort to detect bovine TB in wild species of mammals in the Michigan, USA, outbreak area. From 2002 to 2004, tissue samples from 1,031 individual animals of 32 species were collected, processed, and cultured for M. bovis. Only 10 (1.0%) were culture-positive for M. bovis (five raccoons [Procyon lotor], four opossums [Didelphis virginiana], and one grey fox [Urocyon cinereoargenteus]). We also found two raccoons and four opossums to be positive for Mycobacterium avium. We collected 503 environmental samples from cattle farms recently identified as bovine TB positive; none yielded positive M. bovis culture results. Finally, we used infrared cameras to document wildlife use of four barns in the area. Many avian and mammalian species of wildlife were observed, with raccoons being the most commonly observed species. This surveillance study identified no new wildlife species that should be considered significant reservoirs of bovine TB in the outbreak area in northern Michigan, USA. However, the relatively high, apparent bovine TB prevalence rates in some carnivorous and omnivorous species, their relatively long life spans, and their frequent use of barns, suggests that removal of raccoons, opossums, foxes, and coyotes (Canis latrans) should be considered when a newly infected farm is depopulated of cattle.