Bovine Tuberculosis

Bovine tuberculosis (BTB) is a highly contagious disease caused by Mycobacterium bovis bacteria. It can debilitate and kill bison, moose, deer, elk, goats and cattle. BTB can also infect people. Although rare, infections in people can lead to severe illness and even death.

This is a serious disease that has significant effects on agricultural economies, wildlife management and public health.

We do not know of any case of BTB in B.C. wildlife. However, there have been several recent cases in B.C. cattle, and in other places BTB has moved between wild animals and livestock.

Although we believe B.C. wildlife is at low risk for BTB, the B.C. Wildlife Health Program is concerned about the BTB cases in B.C. cattle. It is starting to collaborate with a number of interest groups, First Nations, the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to prove that no wildlife in B.C. have been infected with BTB. We cannot be sure that wildlife is free of BTB until we look for it.

How Can You Help?

Watch for signs of BTB, and report to the local conservation officer or the B.C. Wildlife Health Program. Please include photos if possible, and save any samples for testing.

If you are a hunter, please check the lungs and rib cage of every animal you field dress and butcher and look for signs of BTB which include

  • Coughing and laboured breathing, poor body condition (in late stage disease).
  • Multiple round gritty lumps in lymph nodes, lungs and rib cage