Investigation of human contacts: A Mycobacterium bovis outbreak among cattle at a California dairy

Kevin L. Winthrop, J. Scott, D. Brown, M. T. Jay, R. Rios, S. Mase, D. Richardson, A. Edmonson, M. MacLean, J. Flood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: In May 2002, a Mycobacterium bovis outbreak occurred among cattle at a California dairy. We investigated to determine whether persons were infected after working with the cattle or drinking their raw milk. METHODS: We identified persons with potential contact with infected cattle, including dairy workers, their family members, and slaughterhouse workers. Persons were given a tuberculin skin test (TST), and their occupational and milk-drinking habits were recorded. RESULTS: Of 88 potential contacts, 78 (90%) were given a TST; 33 (43%) had positive TST results, of whom 32 were Mexican-born (RR 15.8, 95%CI 2.3-108.8). No persons had active tuberculosis. Eighteen (72%) dairy workers, 11 (27%) family members, and four (33%) slaughterhouse workers had positive TST results. After adjusting for Mexican-birth and age, dairy workers were no more likely to have positive TST results than others (adjusted RR 1.2, 95%CI 0.6-2.1). Forty-one (62%) dairy staff and their family members drank raw milk from the dairy; 21 (51%) had positive TST results and were Mexican-born. All 13 US-born raw milk drinkers had negative TST results. CONCLUSION: A high prevalence of positive TST results was documented among workers at the affected dairy, although results were not independently associated with contact with infected cattle or milk products. Further assessment of California dairy workers should be considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)809-813
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Bovine TB
  • Mycobacterium bovis
  • Occupational hazard
  • Tuberculosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Infectious Diseases


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