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Epidemiol Infect. 2013 Jul;141(7):1476-80. doi: 10.1017/S0950268813000022. Epub 2013 Jan 23.

First reported case of fatal tuberculosis in a wild African elephant with past human-wildlife contact.

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Veterinary Services Department, Kenya Wildlife Service, Nairobi, Kenya.


Tuberculosis is emerging/re-emerging in captive elephant populations, where it causes morbidity and deaths, although no case of TB in wild African elephants has been reported. In this paper we report the first case of fatal TB in an African elephant in the wild. The infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis was confirmed by post-mortem and histological examinations of a female sub-adult elephant aged >12 years that died in Tsavo East National Park, Kenya, while under treatment. This case is unique in that during its lifetime the elephant had contact with both humans and wild elephants. The source of the infection was unclear because the elephant could have acquired the infection in the orphanage or in the wild. However, our results show that wild elephants can maintain human TB in the wild and that the infection can be fatal.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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