NIRT proposes to study human-animal-human spill over transmission of TB virus

Researchers at the Indian Council of Medical Research-National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis (ICMR-NIRT) have found human-to-animal transmission of TB in livestock (cattle) and are now awaiting regulatory approval from the ICMR to understand and evaluate the danger this presents to humans.

India reported more than 2.4 million TB cases in 2019 and continues to have the largest share of the global TB burden.

Meanwhile, the country’s total livestock stands at 535.78 million, with an increase of 4.6% over the last census in 2012.

Speaking about the research and what it means for the common man, Dr P. Kannan, scientist at NIRT, explained that one study has been conducted in India to see the transmission from human to cattle and we know that spill over infections in livestock occurs in highly endemic countries like India.

“A new study proposes to study the transmission of TB bacteria (both human to animal and animal to human) in rural settings. And for this, routine screening of animals for TB infection is required. Also infected animals should be segregated from the herd,” he explained. The Institute proposes to undertake the screening of domestic animals in Chennai. 

BCG booster to children

Meanwhile, the Institute is also looking at benefits of recommending BCG vaccination booster shots to children. “The Institute is looking at studying the effect of BCG revaccination in children aged between 6 and 12 years. We will follow them for three years and see whether they catch the disease,’’ said NIRT director Dr. Padmapriyadarsini C.

The trial, which proposes to take on 8,000 candidates, has already been registered with the Clinical Trials Registry of India.

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