Accidental infection of veterinary personnel with Mycobacterium tuberculosis at necropsy: a case study

Posthaus, H; Bodmer, T; Alves, L; Oevermann, A; Schiller, I; Rhodes, S G; Zimmerli, S (2011). Accidental infection of veterinary personnel with Mycobacterium tuberculosis at necropsy: a case study. Veterinary microbiology, 149(3-4), pp. 374-80. Amsterdam: Elsevier 10.1016/j.vetmic.2010.11.027

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Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the main cause of human tuberculosis. Infection in companion animals is mainly acquired from close contact to a diseased human patient and hence rarely diagnosed in countries with low tuberculosis incidence rates. Therefore the general awareness of the disease might be low. Here we report the potential risk of infection for veterinary personnel with M. tuberculosis during the clinical and pathological examination of a dog with unexpected disseminated tuberculosis. The dog had presented with symptoms of a central nervous system disease; rapid deterioration prevented a complete clinical workup, however. Post-mortem examination revealed systemic mycobacteriosis, and M. tuberculosis was identified by PCR amplification of DNA extracts from paraffin-embedded tissue sections and spoligotyping. Contact investigations among the owners and veterinary personnel using an IFN-? release assay indicated that the index dog did not infect humans during its lifetime. Serological and IFN-? release assay results of one of two cats in direct contact with the index dog, however, suggested that transmission of M. tuberculosis might have occurred. Importantly, all three pathologists performing the necropsy on the dog tested positive. Accidental infection was most likely due to inhalation of M. tuberculosis containing aerosols created by using an electric saw to open the brain cavity. As a consequence routine necropsy procedures have been adapted and a disease surveillance program, including tuberculosis, has been initiated. Our results highlight the importance of disease awareness and timely diagnosis of zoonotic infectious agents in optimizing work safety for veterinary personnel.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Infectious Diseases and Pathobiology (DIP) > Institute of Animal Pathology
04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute for Infectious Diseases
05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Research and Veterinary Public Health (DCR-VPH) > Experimental Clinical Research

UniBE Contributor:

Posthaus, Horst, Bodmer, Thomas, Oevermann, Anna, Zimmerli, Stephan








Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:12

Last Modified:

02 Mar 2023 23:20

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URI: (FactScience: 205546)

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