White spots in meat, sign of TB

March 19, 2020
Bubles or White spot

A MESSAGE from WhatsApp had been circulating around social media especially onFacebook and Twitterwarning people that white spots or bubble-like spots on animal meat could be infected with tuberculosis and dangerous to eat.

“If you see bubbles and white spots in animal meat, please avoid eating it. It is animal TB and very dangerous. TB is the bacterial disease tuberculosis,” according toWhatsApp in South Africa. They shared a photo of what seems to be a raw ribcage with white spots. 

The viral photo was credited to theMichigan Department of Natural Resources in the US.

Prof Dan O’Brien, a veterinary specialist at the department, confirmed that it was their photo. 

According to O’Brien, the photo was the ribcage of a white-tailed deer infected with bovine tuberculosis (bTB). 

The World Health Organization (WHO) said there are different types of TB. The main type that affects people is caused by the bacteriaMycobacterium tuberculosis.

The bacteriaMycobacterium tuberculosis mostly affects the lungs and is spread from person to person when people cough, sneeze or spit.

But it’s important to know the difference between human TB and bovine TB.

“Human TB is transmitted between people and bovine TB is transmitted between cattle or from cattle to other animals or humans,” said Dr. Anita Michel from theDepartment of Veterinary Tropical Diseases at theUniversity of Pretoria. Bovine TB is caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium bovis.

O’Brien said people can be infected with bovine TB by coming into contact with infected cattle or by eating parts of an infected animal. Another common cause of infection, particularly in children, is drinking unpasteurized cow’s milk.

Michel said the symptoms of bovine TB are indistinguishable and can present as pulmonary [human] TB. Drinking contaminated milk could cause “an inflammation of the lymph nodes, most commonly in the neck area,” she said.

Bacteria typically infects lymph nodes, lungs and organs.

Michel added that there was a chance that people could get bovine TB by eating raw or undercooked organs or drinking infected milk. Meat and milk should be cooked properly.

Experts said there are simple precautions people can take to kill bacteria in meat and organs. 

Meat should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 60 degrees celsius. Temperature affects how long milk should be boiled to make it safe. 

Milk heated to 63 degrees Celsius should be boiled for at least 30 minutes. But milk that reaches a temperature of 100 degrees celsius only needs to be boiled for a second. 

If you’re unsure about the meat or internal organs that you are about to eat, thoroughly cook the meat at a higher temperature. Unpasteurized milk should be boiled to make it safe to drink.