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Background: Cross-species tuberculosis (TB) transmission between humans and animals has been reported for quite a long time in sub-Saharan Africa. Because humans and animals coexist in the same ecosystem, exploring their potential for cross-species transmission and the impact the disease may have on the health of humans, animals, and their products is critical.
Objectives: This study aimed to identify risk factors for transmission of TB (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) and to assess the potential for zoonotic TB (Mycobacterium bovis) transmission in the Serengeti ecosystem where humans and animals are in intense contact. Our aim is to create a base for future implementation of appropriate control strategies to limit infection in both humans and animals.
Methodology: We administered a semi-structured questionnaire to 421 self-reporting patients to gather information on risk factors and TB occurrence. In a parallel study, researchers screened sputum smears using Ziehl–Neelsen staining and confirmed by mycobacterial culture. We then performed descriptive statistics (Pearson’s chi-square test) and logistic regression analysis to establish frequencies, association, and quantification of the risk factors associated with TB cases.
Results: Our findings showed 44% (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.40-0.49) of the results were positive from sputum samples collected over a 1-year duration in areas with a high TB burden, particularly the Bunda district, followed by the Serengeti and Ngorongoro districts. Of the culture-positive patients who also had infections other than TB (43/187 patients), 21 (49%) were HIV positive. Contact with livestock products (odds ratio [OR] 6.0; 95% CI, 1.81-19.9), infrequent milk consumption (OR 2.5; 95% CI, 1.42-4.23), cigarette smoking (OR 2.9; 95% CI, 1.19-7.1.2), and alcohol consumption (OR 2.3; 95% CI, 1.22-4.23) were associated with a higher likelihood of TB infection.
Conclusion: There was no evidence of direct cross-species transmission of either M tuberculosis or M bovis between humans and animals using the study methods. The absence of cross-species TB transmission could be due to limited chances of contact rather than an inability of cross-species disease transmission. In addition, not all people with presumptive TB are infected with TB, and therefore control strategies should emphasise confirming TB status before administering anti-TB drugs.