Molecular epidemiology of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex strains isolated from livestock and wild animals in Italy suggests the need for a different eradication strategy for bovine tuberculosis.

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Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is an important zoonosis, which has been re-emerging in different ecological scenarios. In Sicily, Italy, from 2004 to 2014, an anatomopathological survey for tuberculosis-like lesions both in farmed and wild animals was performed. The isolates were genotyped using spoligotyping and Mycobacterial Interspersed Repetitive Units-Variable Number of Tandem Repeats (MIRU-VNTR) techniques. High prevalence of lesions was observed for cattle (4%), pigs (4.9%) and wild boars (6.8%), and a total of 625 Mycobacterium bovis isolates were identified. Genotyping analysis showed the presence of 37 different spoligotypes including fifteen spoligotypes not present in other Italian regions and 266 MIRU-VNTR profiles. Spoligotype SB0120 exhibited the highest prevalence in cattle (50%) and pigs (56%) and the highest genetic variety with 126 different MIRU-VNTR profiles. The isolation of M. bovis in a farmer underlines the importance of M. bovis identification during the human TB diagnostic processes. This study supported the use of the genotyping analysis as a valuable tool for the evaluation of the epidemiological role of pigs and other domestic reservoirs such as goats and the role of wildlife in the maintenance of bTB infection.

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