Bovine ownership and reduced pulmonary tuberculosis risk in Nepal: a case-control study.
This case-control study sought to confirm and investigate in more depth protective associations previously found of bovine (cattle and water buffalo) ownership with reduced risk of both pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) and latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) in humans. The study recruited male and female PTB cases from a diagnostic centre and a frequency-matched community-based control group in Kaski District, Nepal. Controls were tested for LTBI status and a separate nested case-control study was conducted based on LTBI status. Data were collected on participant household animal ownership. Using logistic regression, animal ownership was investigated for associations with both PTB and LTBI. Data were obtained from 570 PTB cases and 1,224 controls, the latter group providing 396 LTBI-positive and 692 LTBI-negative subjects. Results provided evidence of decreased odds of both PTB and LTBI positivity associated with owning bovines. The evidence was strongest for protection against infection, rather than activation of infection to PTB. Effects were strongest in women, who usually manage the animals in Nepal, and there were exposure-response relationships with numbers of bovines owned. Results suggest that exposure to bovines is protective against LTBI and PTB. A possible mechanism involves boosting the effect of BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin) vaccination, particularly in protecting against tuberculous infection. Additional studies with more extensive data collection are needed to confirm the observed associations.