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Tuberculosis in bovine animals
Tuberculosis in bovine animals

 Last update 2023/03/15

Tuberculosis in bovine animals eradication in Europe

Tuberculosis in bovine animals

According to the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/1882, infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (M. bovis, M. caprae, M. tuberculosis) in bovine animals (Bison spp., Bos spp., Bubalus spp.) is listed as category B disease, therefore it must be controlled in all Member States with the goal of eradicating it throughout the Union, as referred to in Article 9(1)(b) of Regulation (EU) 2016/429. This new regulatory framework for bovine tuberculosis has changed substantially in the EU since 2021 and nowadays, tuberculosis is currently considered a disease to be controlled in all MSs with the goal of eradicating the disease in bovine animals throughout the EU, while being kept under surveillance in other mammals. All MSs must have a surveillance or a control-and-eradication programme approved by the European Commission.


Eradication of TB in bovine animals has been an important issue since the beginning of the European Economic Community (EEC), and current EU policies on the eradication of the disease are best understood after considering the progressive development of relevant Community legislation [1].
The EU policy on the eradication of TB in bovine animals has been based on two main principles:(1) the Member States are primarily responsible for the eradication of TB in bovine animals and may receive community financial support for the eradication program and (2) eradication of TB in bovine animals the EU must be a financial target and the Member States must consider eradication as the defined aim [1].


The scientific report of EFSA and ECDC titled "The European Union One Health 2021 Zoonoses Report" [2] reported a valuable overview of the TB infection in bovine animals in Europe. The country status on 31 December 2021 of freedom from bovine TB (OTF) is presented in Figure 1. Seventeen Member States (MS) had disease-free status from MTBC during 2021. Of the 10 MSs and the United Kingdom (Northern Ireland), three MSs had disease-free zones or provinces (Italy, Portugal and Spain). Seven MSs had no disease-free status from MTBC zones. Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein had disease-free status, in accordance with EU legislation, and in Iceland the last outbreak of TB in bovine animals was reported in 1959.

Figure 1. Status of countries on TB in bovine  animals, 2019 (EFSA, 2021)

Figure 1. Status of countries for infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (M. bovis, M. caprae and M. tuberculosis) in the bovine animal population, EU MSs and non-MSs, 2021 (EFSA, 2022) [2].

During 2021, the overall EU prevalence of cattle herds infected with MTBC was very low (0.6%; 9,690 out of 1,726,451 herds). The zones with non-disease-free status, belonging to 10 MSs and the United Kingdom (Northern Ireland) account for 43.9% of the whole EU cattle herd population. In 2021, prevalence varied widely among MSs with non-disease-free status: Ireland (4.6%) and Spain (1.3%) were the only MSs that reported prevalence higher than 1%; no infected herds were reported by Malta or Cyprus. Most MSs reported MTBC infections without specifying the species involved, although infection with M. bovis and M. caprae was specifically detected in 9 and 3 MSs, respectively. M. tuberculosis in cattle was not reported. The prevalence trends in the five MSs presenting the highest prevalence between 2005 and 2021 are shown in Figure 2. In Greece, Ireland and Spain no significant improvements were observed over time, although in Italy, Spain and Portugal, several zones obtained disease-free status during this period [2].


Figure 2. Proportion of cattle herds infected with TB in OTF regions, EU, 20102019 (EFSA, 2021)

Figure 2. Prevalence of bovine tuberculosis-infected herds in non-disease-free zones of five MSs and the United Kingdom (Northern Ireland), 20052021.


The Commission implementing regulation (EU) 2021/620 lays down rules for the listed diseases referred in Regulation (EU) 2016/429 of animals, as regards the disease-free and non-vaccination status of certain Member States or zones or compartments thereof, and the approval of eradication programmes for those listed diseases. The Annex II of this regulation list a) the Member States or zones thereof with disease-free status from infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (Mycobacterium bovis, M. caprae and M. tuberculosis) (MTBC); and b) the Member States or zones thereof with an approved compulsory eradication programme for infection with MTBC. In table 1 there is a summary of the information included in Annex II (consolidated text 26/01/2023).

Table 1. Member States or zones thereof with disease-free status or approved eradication programme from infection with MTBC (Commission implementing regulation 2021/620).

Member State

Disease-free status

Approved eradication programme

Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden

Whole territory


Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Malta, Romania


Whole territory


R Abruzzo; R Basilicata: Provincia di Matera; R Emilia-Romagna; R Friuli Venezia Giulia; R Lazio: Provincia di Frosinone, Latina, Rieti, Viterbo; R Liguria; R Lombardia; R Marche: Provincia di Ancona, Ascoli Piceno, Fermo, Pesaro-Urbino; R Molise; R Piemonte; R Puglia: Provincia di Bari, Taranto; R Sardegna: Citta metropolitana di Cagliari, Provincia di Nuoro, Oristano, Sud Sardegna; R Toscana; R Trentino – Alto Adige; R Umbria; R Valle d’Aosta; R Veneto

R Basilicata: Provincia di Potenza; R Calabria
R Campania; R Lazio: Provincia di Roma; R Marche: Provincia di Macerata; R Puglia: Provincia di Barletta-Adria-Trani, Brindisi, Foggia, Lecce; R Sardegna: Provincia di Sassari; R Sicilia


R Algarve: all distritos; Autónoma dos Açores except Ilha de São Miguel

R Autónoma dos Açores: Ilha de São Miguel; R Autónoma da Madeira; Distritos Aveiro, Beja, Braga, Bragança, Castelo Branco, Coimbra, Evora, Guarda, Leiria, Lisboa, Portalegre, Porto, Santarem, Setubal, Viana do Castelo, Vila Real, Viseu


CA de Canarias; CA de Cataluña; CA de Galicia; CA de Islas Baleares; CA de Murcia; CA del País Vasco; CA del Principado de Asturias

CA de Andalucía; CA de Aragón; CA de Cantabria; CA de Castilla-La Mancha; CA de Castilla y León; CA de Extremadura; CA de La Rioja; CA de Madrid; CA de Navarra; CA de Valencia

United Kingdom (Northern Ireland)


Northern Ireland

R. Regione (Italy) or Região (Portugal); D. Distritos; CA. Comunidad Autónoma.