PARATUBERCULOSIS (Johne's disease) is a chronic wasting disease of ruminants that was first described in cattle in 1895. It is generally accepted that [i]Mycobacterium avium[/i] subspecies [i]paratuberculosis[/i] (MAP) is the causal agent although many of the details regarding the mechanisms of pathogenesis remain unknown. Paratuberculosis is of principal economic importance in cattle, sheep and goats but infection with MAP has been reported in many other species including deer, South American camelids, bison, stumptail macaques, rabbits, foxes and stoats. Bovine paratuberculosis is a significant disease for a number of reasons. As well as causing economic losses as a result of reduced production, culling of infected animals and the costs of testing procedures and control measures, it has been suggested that MAP plays a role in the aetiology of Crohn's disease in humans - although this hypothesis remains highly controversial. This article discusses the challenges posed by bovine paratuberculosis, particularly with regard to diagnosis and control, and briefly reviews the evidence concerning the potential zoonotic role of MAP.
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