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Fasciola hepatica is associated with the failure to detect bovine tuberculosis in dairy cattle

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • Jen Claridge
  • Peter Diggle
  • Catherine McCann
  • Grace Mulcahy
  • Rob Flynn
  • Jim McNair
  • Sam Strain
  • Michael Welsh
  • Matthew Baylis
  • Diana J.L. Williams
Article number853
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2012
<mark>Journal</mark>Nature Communications
Issue numbern/a
Number of pages8
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date22/05/12
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Bovine tuberculosis (BTB) is a significant and intractable disease of cattle caused by Mycobacterium bovis. In the United Kingdom, despite an aggressive eradication programme, the prevalence of BTB is increasing with an unexplained, exponential rise in cases year on year. Here we show in a study involving 3,026 dairy herds in England and Wales that there is a significant negative association between exposure to the common, ubiquitous helminth parasite, Fasciola hepatica and diagnosis of BTB. The magnitude of the single intradermal comparative cervical tuberculin test used to diagnose BTB is reduced in cattle experimentally co-infected with M. bovis and F. hepatica. We estimate an under-ascertainment rate of about one-third (95% confidence interval 27–38%) among our study farms, in the hypothetical situation of no exposure to F. hepatica. This finding may in part explain the continuing spread of BTB and the failure of the current eradication programme in the United Kingdom.