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Open Access Research article

Wild boar tuberculosis in Iberian Atlantic Spain: a different picture from Mediterranean habitats

Marta Muñoz-Mendoza1, Nelson Marreros2, Mariana Boadella2, Christian Gortázar2, Santiago Menéndez3, Lucía de Juan45, Javier Bezos4, Beatriz Romero4, María Francisca Copano6, Javier Amado6, José Luis Sáez7, Jorge Mourelo1 and Ana Balseiro8*

Author Affiliations

1 Servicio de Sanidad Animal, Consejería de Medio Rural y de Mar, Xunta de Galicia, Edificio Administrativo San Caetano, Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña, 15781, Spain

2 SaBio-IREC (CSIC-UCLM-JCCM), Ronda de Toledo s.n., Ciudad Real, 13005, Spain

3 Departamento de Biología Molecular del Laboratorio de Sanidad y Producción Animal de Galicia, Avenida de Madrid 77, Lugo, 27002, Spain

4 VISAVET Health Surveillance Centre, Universidad Complutense, Avda, Puerta de Hierro s/n, Madrid, 28040, Spain

5 Facultad de Veterinaria (Departamento de Sanidad Animal), Universidad Complutense, Avda, Puerta de Hierro s/n, Madrid, 28040, Spain

6 Laboratorio de Sanidad Animal del Principado de Asturias, Travesía del hospital 96, Gijón, Asturias, 33299, Spain

7 Dirección General de Sanidad de la Producción Agraria MAGRAMA, Madrid, 24014, Spain

8 SERIDA, Servicio Regional de Investigación y Desarrollo Agroalimentario, Centro de Biotecnología Animal, Deva-Gijón, Asturias, 33394, Spain

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BMC Veterinary Research 2013, 9:176  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-9-176

Published: 8 September 2013



Infections with Mycobacterium bovis and closely related members of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTC) are shared between livestock, wildlife and sporadically human beings. Wildlife reservoirs exist worldwide and can interfere with bovine tuberculosis (TB) eradication efforts. The Eurasian wild boar (Sus scrofa) is a MTC maintenance host in Mediterranean Iberia (Spain and Portugal). However, few systematic studies in wild boar have been carried out in Atlantic regions. We describe the prevalence, distribution, pathology and epidemiology of MTC and other mycobacteria from wild boar in Atlantic Spain. A total of 2,067 wild boar were sampled between 2008 and 2012.


The results provide insight into the current status of wild boar as MTC and Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) hosts in temperate regions of continental Europe. The main findings were a low TB prevalence (2.6%), a low proportion of MTC infected wild boar displaying generalized TB lesions (16.7%), and a higher proportion of MAC infections (4.5%). Molecular typing revealed epidemiological links between wild boar and domestic – cattle, sheep and goat – and other wildlife – Eurasian badger (Meles meles) and red fox (Vulpes vulpes) – hosts.


This study shows that the likelihood of MTC excretion by wild boar in Atlantic habitats is much lower than in Mediterranean areas. However, wild boar provide a good indicator of MTC circulation and, given the current re-emergence of animal TB, similar large-scale surveys would be advisable in other Atlantic regions of continental Europe.

Wild boar; Tuberculosis; Mycobacterial infections; Atlantic Spain; Cattle