Diagnosis of tuberculosis in camelids: old problems, current solutions and future challenges.
In spite of great efforts for its control and eradication, tuberculosis remains one of the most important zoonosis worldwide. Its causative agents, the members of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex, have a wide host range that complicates the epidemiology of this disease. Among susceptible species to these pathogens, camelids from the New World (llama, alpaca and vicuña) and Old World (Bactrian camel and dromedary) are acquiring an increasing importance in several European countries because of its growing number and could act as reservoirs of the disease for livestock and humans in their natural habitat. In addition, tuberculosis caused by a number of M. tuberculosis complex members is a life-threatening disease in these animal species. Although tuberculosis has been known to affect camelids for a long time, ante-mortem diagnosis is still challenging because of the lack of standardized diagnostic techniques and the limited sensitivity and specificity of the most widely applied tests. However, in recent years, several techniques that can at least partially overcome these limitations have been developed. This paper reviews the results and advances achieved in tuberculosis diagnosis in camelids in the last decade as well as the progresses on ongoing investigations, with special attention to the remaining challenges that still have to be faced to assure the availability of reliable tools for the detection of tuberculosis-infected animals and herds.