Vitamin D could help control bovine TB in wild animal
The pilot study of 40 animals was conducted by a multidisciplinary team of scientists from the University of Surrey (UK), Universidad de Extremadura (Spain), and SME Ingulados (Spain).
Wild boar and red deer are key hosts of bovine tuberculosis – a chronic, infectious disease mainly caused by Mycobacterium bovis - in southern Europe, with the incidence of TB in these animals particularly high in certain areas of Spain.
Wild boar and red deer transmit the disease to cattle and other species, causing a major problem in far
and domestic animals across Europe The research also concludes that vitamin D supplementation could be explored in other species such as badgers, which are key hosts for bovine tuberculosis in the UK.
Vitamin D – and other nutritional factors – are known to influence the severity of TB in humans but its relationship with cattle and other mammals has not been studied until now.
In the pilot study, half of the animals were given a vitamin D3-enriched food while half were given no supplementation.
Among animals with TB, there was a clear correlation between the severity of the disease and their blood concentration of vitamin D3. These animals were also more likely to be suffering from a localised TB infection than severe generalised TB. ■