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Brown CowA herd of dairy cattle in California tested positive for TB during a routine inspection. Bovine TB can be transmitted to humans, but it’s very unlikely and carefully monitored for.

Bovine TB can be slow and symptomless but still contagious, allowing it to spread among deer and cattle. Because it’s very similar to the human TB virus, it can also spread to humans. Coughing, sneezing animals can spread the virus, but it’s more likely for the virus to spread through raw or under cooked meat and dairy products.

Proper food hygiene—cleaning surfaces exposed to raw meats and carefully washing hands, can prevent transmission, as can eating meats cooked to safe temperatures.

Of course, many measures are taken to stop Bovine TB at the source. Slaughtered animals are carefully inspected, and most dairy you get is pasteurized. Unpasteurized, or raw dairy, is held to an even higher standard and goes through more rigorous inspection.

Tuberculosis is highly mutagenic, so even though antibiotics have made it a non-issue for the last 50 years, it’s returning in an even more virulent form. Last year there was a major outbreak in Florida.

Parasites, Bovine TB, Bacteria, Oh My! How do you like your meat cooked, and do you worry about illness?

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