LANSING -- The recent discovery that a Michigan resident had bovine tuberculosis isn't cause for concern, state officials say.
"This was a very rare occurrence," said Department of Community Health Director James K. Haveman Jr.
"Bovine TB was not the cause of death, but it was present in lesions found during the autopsy."
The department conducted DNA fingerprinting to confirm that a bacterial strain found in the man was the same found in cattle and deer in northern Lower Michigan.
Occurrences of the disease in humans is not limited to the Lower Peninsula, but doctors in the Upper Peninsula noted that finding bovine TB in humans is just as rare in their region as it is everywhere else.
Department of Natural Resources Director K.L. Cool also is unconcerned over the findings.
"Basically, anyone who drank unpasteurized milk has some bovine TB strands in them," Cool said. "No one has died from having bovine TB in their system."
Haveman noted that the patient suffered from many other health issues.
"This patient had underlying health problems and any form of tuberculosis is a risk for persons with a history of chronic illness or the elderly."
Bob Bender, coordinator of the Michigan Bovine TB Eradication program, said the chance for humans to become infected with bovine TB is still quite slim.
"The possibility of humans contracting bovine TB from animals continues to be extremely remote," Bender said.
In recent years, DCH officials have worked with the eradication project to educate the public about standard prevention practices.
Among the suggestions provided are:
- Avoid drinking unpasteurized milk or eating uncooked meat from possibly infected animals.
- Wear disposable latex gloves when handling animals and wash your hands afterward.
- Get tested for bovine TB infection after contact with potentially infected animals.
- Properly wash hands and utensils when cooking and properly refrigerate meat.
- Thoroughly examine the meat from any wild deer for any abnormal colors or lumps.
Local health departments offer free testing to anyone who may have had contact with infected animals. The tests are recommended for hunters or camp personnel as well as farmers with affected herds in those areas where cases of bovine TB have been confirmed.
For more information in the Upper Peninsula, call the local health center or one of these health departments:
- The Marquette County Health Department at (906)-475-9977.
- The Keweenaw Memorial Health Center at (906)-296-5040.
- The Delta-Menominee District Health Department at (906)-786-4111.
© 2002, Capital News Service, Michigan State University
School of Journalism
© 2002, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism