Mycobacteriosis in Pigs – An Underrated Threat

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Abstract

Although Mycobacterium avium subspecies are generally not considered food pathogens, the infections caused by these particular nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) can represent a serious threat to immunocompromised population. Additionally, infections with a member of Mycobacterium Avium Compex (MAC) can affect the efficiency of BCG vaccines used for the humans. In infected animals, M. avium may be present in different tissues without apparent clinical symptoms and macroscopic lesions. Veterinary meat inspection would then fail to recognize infected animals and such meat and meat products thereof could enter the human diet. The aim of this paper is also to analyze the current control policy in Europe according to infections of pigs with the members of MAC, and point out the risks for public health. By analyzing a large number of meat samples and other dietary nutrients, different groups of authors have provided evidence to support the hypothesis that M. avium is present in the everyday environment. Therefore, food as a source of infection with mycobacteria should not be ignored. The control of mycobacteria requires a better diagnostic approach, having in mind recent positive cases of M. avium subspecies hominissuis (MAH) in an increasing number of exported pigs from EU countries to Serbia. The introduction of reliable diagnostic methods for MAH could result in decreasing the occurrence of infection in pigs, as well as in humans, having in mind that WHO reported 10 million new cases of tuberculosis-mycobacteriosis in the human population in 2015 with 21% of these cases occurring in immunocompromised individuals and children.

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