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Review article2009Peer reviewedOpen access

A review of infection of wildlife hosts with Mycobacterium bovis and the diagnostic difficulties of the 'no visible lesion' presentation

Gavier-Widen, Dolores; Cooke, MM; Gallagher, J; Chambers, MA; Gortázar, C


The pathology, frequency and diagnostic implications of 'no visible lesion' (NVL) tuberculosis (Tb), i. e. infection with Mycobacterium bovis in the absence of macroscopic lesions, are described in a wide taxonomic range of wildlife hosts. Information collected and evaluated on the definition and occurrence of NVL Tb, histopathological characteristics, post-mortem techniques to detect minimal lesions, and diagnostic difficulties revealed most Tb-infected individuals with NVL had minute tuberculous lesions, which were difficult to see by eye. Acid-fast organisms (AFO) were sometimes detected in the lesions. Ideally, mycobacterial culture of pools of lymph nodes and/or oropharyngeal tonsils is necessary for the accurate diagnosis of Tb in the absence of macroscopic lesions. At a very minimum, the diagnostic methods applied for studying the prevalence of Tb in the population should be clearly described, to allow comparison between studies.


Bovine tuberculosis; Mycobacterium bovis; wildlife; Eurasian badger (Meles meles); brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula); cervids; ferrets (Mustela furo); European wild boar (Sus scrofa)

Published in

New Zealand Veterinary Journal
2009, Volume: 57, number: 3, pages: 122-131

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG3 Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Animal and Dairy Science
    Veterinary Science

    Publication identifier


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