Rome, October 13 - The Rome-based United Nations Food and Agriculture Organizations (FAO) has announced the launch of the first-ever roadmap to combat animal tuberculosis (bovine TB) and its transmission to humans, referred to as zoonotic TB. This is most often passed through consumption of contaminated untreated meat or dairy products from diseased animals. The roadmap calls for close collaboration between those working to improve human and animal health. It is built on a One Health approach, addressing health risks across sectors. Four partners, the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), have joined forces to develop the roadmap. New data released by the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over 140,000 people fall ill and more than 12,000 people lose their lives each year to zoonotic TB - mostly in the African and the South-East Asian regions. "We have made progress towards ending TB, yet to a large extent people with zoonotic TB are left behind. The priorities outlined in this roadmap highlight the need for multisectoral action to tackle this neglected form of TB and achieve the targets of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and WHO's End TB Strategy," said Mario Raviglione, Director of the WHO Global TB Programme. Zoonotic TB is largely hidden as the advanced laboratory tools are required to diagnose it are frequently unavailable. The disease is resistant to pyrazinamide - one of the standard first-line medications used to treat TB. Patients are therefore often misdiagnosed and may receive ineffective treatment. "We must recognise the interdependence of the health of people and animals in the fight against TB," said Berhe Tekola, Director of the FAO Animal Production and Health Division. "Specifically, bovine TB, caused by Mycobacterium bovis, affects cattle, threatens people's livelihoods and results in major economic and trade barriers, as well as posing a major risk to food safety and human health".
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