Bovine tuberculosis is a zoonosis of chronic evolution, and despite its high prevalence, it is considered a neglected disease. It belongs to the list of diseases notifiable to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), which reinforces its importance as a serious public health problem. In this scenario, this study describes the epidemiology of cases of bovine tuberculosis in South America to emphasize the importance of measures to control and prevent the disease. A cross-sectional, descriptive, retrospective and quali-quantitative investigation was carried out using countries located in South America as units of analysis. The sample was delimited to the period from 2012 to 2018, and data were collected from information available in the official database of the International Organization of Epizootics (Office International des Epizooties, OIE) and the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (Ministério da Agricultura, Pecuária e Abastecimento, MAPA). Results were analyzed using simple descriptive statistics. The countries with the highest number of reported cases of bovine tuberculosis were Argentina and Chile, with an average prevalence of 0.46% and 0.96%, respectively. Brazil had an average prevalence of 0.02%, with the highest rates occurring in the states of Santa Catarina (0.21%), Federal District (0.11%), Rio Grande do Sul (0.09%) and Paraná (0.09%). In terms of prevalence of outbreaks, the states of Paraná (1.35%), Federal District (1.29%) and Santa Catarina (0.88%) stood out. In conclusion, South American countries, including Brazil, have a low prevalence rate of bovine tuberculosis, but strategies related to the surveillance of the disease must be adopted alongside health education actions aimed at rural producers and the population to minimize the risk of occurrence of this zoonotic tuberculosis.