Researchers suggest that the Egyptian mongoose could act as an accidental host for tuberculosis, but that it would play a minor role in the maintenance and transmission of the disease in ecosystems.
A study conducted by the Research Group in Health and Biotechnology (SaBio) and Research Group in Game Resources and Wildlife Management of the Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos (IREC – CSIC, UCLM, JCCM), in collaboration with the Centro de Vigilancia Sanitaria Veterinaria (VISAVET – UCM), has detected Mycobacterium bovis, the mycobacteria that causes animal tuberculosis, for the first time in the Egyiptian mongoose (Ichneumon herpes) in Spain.
Tuberculosis is an infectious disease of great relevance in livestock and wildlife. Despite being subject of an ambitious Eradication Plan in cattle, Tuberculosis persists especially in the Central and Southern regions of the iberian peninsula. In these areas, extensive livestock farming coexists with large game species, establishing a cycle of transmission and maintenance of Tuberculosis through direct and indirect contacts between domestic and wild species, especially cattle, sheep and goats, wild boar, red deer and the fallow deer.
The Egyptian mongoose, the only naturally occurring mongoose in Europe, is an opportunistic and diurnal mesocarnivore, which feeds mainly on insects, reptiles and small mammals (although it also takes advantage of carrion) and moves during the day generally in family groups of one female and its offspring (Photo: Francisco Javier Gómez Chicano).
In the present study, roadkill Egyptian mongooses collected in the provinces of Ciudad Real and Toledo were analyzed by mycobacterial culture and spoligotyping, the reference technique for the diagnosis and confirmation of Tuberculosis in cattle. Among the 25 animals analyzed, 3 were confirmed as positive to Mycobacterium bovis, specifically for the most frequent spoligotypes among cattle and wildlife in the area. Furthermore, the typical Tuberculosis lesions, such as granulomas, were not observed during necropsy.
Taking into account the low proportion of animals positive for Mycobacterium bovis and the null presence of typical Tuberculosis lesions, as well as the coincidence of the spoligotypes with those already detected in the sampling area, the researchers suggest that Egyptian mongooses act as accidental hosts, that is, they are susceptible to infection from reservoirs such as wild boar or red deer (for example, through scavenging), but they would play a minor role in the maintenance and transmission of Tuberculosis.
The scientific publication of this research is available at:
- Ferreras-Colino, E., Descalzo, E., Romero, B., Gortázar, C., Ferreras, P. 2023. Mycobacterium bovis in Egyptian mongoose, Spain. Zoonoses and Public Health 1-4.