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

Jen Claridge, Peter Diggle, Catherine M. McCann, Grace Mulcahy, Rob Flynn, Jim McNair, Sam Strain, Michael Welsh, Matthew Baylis, Diana J L Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number853
JournalNature Communications
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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