Epidemiology and Infection

Review Article

Bovine tuberculosis in southern African wildlife: a multi-species host–pathogen system

A. R. RENWICKa1, P. C. L. WHITEa1 c1 and R. G. BENGISa2

a1 Environment Department, University of York, York, UK

a2 Veterinary Investigation Centre, Kruger National Park, Republic of South Africa


This review examines the current situation of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in southern African savannah systems, and uses theory on multi-species host–pathogen systems to suggest possible options for future research and management. In southern Africa, the buffalo (Syncerus caffer) and the Kafue lechwe [Marsh antelope] (Kobus leche) have been found to be maintenance hosts for this disease, but the importance of other host species is becoming apparent. The role of other host species in the maintenance and spread of the disease varies, depending on the spatial distribution and resource utilization patterns of the species, disease susceptibility, transmission modes and the ecology of both host(s) and vector(s). Future research needs to identify the pathogenicity of bTB in each of the host species, and the mechanisms and rates of inter- and intra-specific transmission among different species, in order to develop multi-host models to understand the development and spread of the disease.

(Accepted July 14 2006)

(Online publication September 07 2006)


c1 *Author for correspondence: Dr P. C. L. White, Environment Department, University of York, York YO10 5DD, UK.