Tuberculosis due to Mycobacterium bovis affects both captive and free-ranging Cervidae in the United States. Various animal models have been developed to study tuberculosis of both humans and animals. Generally, tuberculosis is transmitted by aerosol and oral routes. Models of aerosol exposure of large animals to M. bovis are uncommon. In order to develop a reliable method of aerosol exposure of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) to M. bovis, 12 healthy white-tailed deer, aged 8–10 mo, were infected by aerosol exposure to 2×105 to 1×106 colony forming units (CFU) (high dose, n=4) of M. bovis or 6×102 to 1.6×103 CFU (low dose, n=8) of M. bovis. Tuberculous lesions were more widely disseminated in deer receiving the high dose, while lesions in deer receiving the low dose were more focused on the lungs and associated lymph nodes (tracheobronchial and mediastinal). Aerosol delivery of M. bovis to white-tailed deer results in a reliable manner of experimental infection that may be useful for studies of disease pathogenesis, immune response, mycobacterial shedding, and vaccine efficacy.
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