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CNN – In 2014, an estimated 9.6 million people were infected by tuberculosis, according to the World Health Organization. Potentially fatal — 1.5 million died from it the same year — it is a disease known to be spread from human to human. But a subset of those contracting the disease today are getting it from infected animals.
Unbeknownst to many, tuberculosis can spread through your food, as well as the air, via infected animals.
The most common culprits? Infected cattle. The most common source? Their infected food products, such as milk and cheese.
Cows and many other animals can harbor bovine tuberculosis (TB), a disease caused by infection with Mycobacterium bovis — a close relative of the bacteria that cause human tuberculosis. Risk of human disease rises when animal infections aren’t controlled.
The highest rates of bovine TB cases in the United States are found along the U.S.- Mexican border, according to Colleen Scott, Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).