Mikota S.K.,Elephant Care International |
Gairhe K.,Chitwan National Park |
Giri K.,Government of Nepal |
Hamilton K.,University of Minnesota |
And 10 more authors.
European Journal of Wildlife Research
A comprehensive elephant tuberculosis (TB) survey using culture and four serological screening tests was conducted in Nepal in response to concern raised by wildlife officials that TB could threaten wild populations of elephants, rhinos, and other susceptible species. Captive elephants come into close contact with wild animals during conservation and tourism activities inside Nepal’s national parks. Private and government-owned male and female captive Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) were included in the study. The mean reported age was 38 years (range 5–60 years). A total of 289 samples from 120 elephants were collected for mycobacterial culture. Culture samples were processed at the National Tuberculosis Centre (NTC) in Nepal and the National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, IA. Acid-fast organisms were observed in 11 and 21 samples processed at NTC and NVSL, respectively, and nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTMs) were isolated from six elephants. There were no isolations of Mycobacterium tuberculosis or Mycobacterium bovis. Blood samples were also collected from 115 of the elephants for serological testing using the Chembio ElephantTB STAT-PAK®, the Chembio MultiAntigen Print Immunoassay test, a multi-antigen ELISA, and an immunoblot assay. Culture and serological results were variable and required careful interpretation to develop criteria to assess TB risk. Elephants were assigned to one of four disease risk groups (high, moderate, low, and undetermined), and management recommendations for each group were made to government authorities. Serological results were prioritized in developing recommendations because of culture limitations and inconclusive culture results. This strategy was based on evidence for the early predictive value of serological tests and the urgent need expressed by wildlife authorities in Nepal to protect their captive elephants, mitigate TB at the captive-wild interface, and safeguard tourism. © 2015, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. Source