Avian Tuberculosis

What Is Avian Tuberculosis?

Avian tuberculosis is a chronic wasting disease caused by infection with the bacteria Mycobacterium avium that can affect a wider range of bird species and may affect mammalian species (including humans, though the serotypes affecting humans have generally been different to those isolated from poultry). Avian TB occurs worldwide but most frequently occurring in the Northern Hemisphere in the temperate zone.

Routes of Infection

Infection results from ingestion of material contaminated with feces of infected birds or other animals. The feces of infected birds can contain very large numbers of the bacteria. M. avium can persist in the environment for many years. Spread from contaminated environments can take place mechanically on shoes and equipment. Ingestion of infected carcasses can also spread the infection. Eggs are not considered to play a significant role in the source of infection.


M. avium infection can be dangerous in humans with compromised immune systems.