Tuberculosis due to M bovis is an important problem in most species of farmed and wild cervids. Deer appear to be unusually susceptible to mycobacterial infections, and M avium infections may produce similar lesions. M tuberculosis infection seems to be uncommon. Tuberculous lesions may be confined to isolated lymph nodes, or they may be found extensively in lymph nodes and organs after a rapid, fulminating disease course. Abscessation in deer should always raise suspicions of TB. Diagnosis may be assisted by the tuberculin skin test, in vitro cellular assays (eg, blood lymphocyte stimulation test or interferon-γ assay), serology (ELISA), or a combination of these. Infection should be confirmed by an organism-based test.
Last full review/revision March 2012 by Charles O. Thoen, DVM, PhD