To protect the national livestock herd and wildlife, a program should be initiated to eradicate bovine tuberculosis in farmed elk, deer, and other hoofed exotic species. Federal authority to pursue eradication should be exercised by APHIS in issuing Uniform Methods and Rules separate from those for cattle and bison.
Although the likelihood of M. bovis infection in humans has been greatly reduced by the control of tuberculosis in animals and animal products, subgroups of the human population still experience risk. Consequently, it is prudent to take measures to minimize the possibility of disease transmission between animals and humans.
To protect human and animal health, all confirmed diagnoses of M. bovis should be reported to public veterinary and medical officials. Federal public health authorities should differentiate among organisms in the M. tuberculosis complex in reporting disease incidence, initiate surveillance in all instances in which risk of transmission between animals and humans exists, and consider educational efforts aimed at those who may come into contact with infected animals.
There is always a danger that success in the eradication program removes incentives to learn more about bovine tuberculosis. However, continuing efforts in research and in training animal health personnel are needed to assure effectiveness in disease detection and management, to meet changing requirements of food safety regulations, and to cope with the inexperience of animal industry workers with this disease.
USDA should institute ongoing evaluation of new diagnostic technologies to complement the routine application of existing tests. Ongoing collaborative research should investigate pathogenesis, immunology, diagnostic approaches, genetic resistance, and the epidemiology of bovine tuberculosis.
New surveillance methods for bovine tuberculosis at slaughter, designed to detect M. bovis infection in the absence of gross lesions and compatible with Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) inspection, should be developed. More immediately, USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service should reconfigure its goals for sampling carcasses for lesions in order to reflect accurately the probability of infection that varies by animal species, animal type, and region.
To ensure that new scientific programs and technologies are used effectively, USDA should allocate the resources necessary to expand training of current and newly hired animal health workers according to their need to know about bovine tuberculosis. Experienced field personnel who have worked with naturally occurring bovine tuberculosis must be available as needed, allowing the testing program to reduce its reliance on accredited veterinarians.