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J Wildl Dis. 2017 Apr;53(2):372-376. doi: 10.7589/2016-07-159. Epub 2017 Jan 25.

Prevalence and Risk Factors for Mycobacterium bovis Infection in African Lions ( Panthera leo ) in the Kruger National Park.

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1 Department of Science and Technology-National Research Foundation Centre of Excellence for Biomedical Tuberculosis Research/South African Medical Research Council Centre for TB Research/Division of Molecular Biology and Human Genetics, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, PO Box 241, Cape Town 8000, South Africa.
2 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, 300 W Drake Rd., Fort Collins, Colorado 80523, USA.
3 Veterinary Wildlife Services, South African National Parks, Kruger National Park, Private Bag X402, Skukuza 1350, South Africa.


Mycobacterium bovis, the causative agent of bovine tuberculosis (BTB), is endemic in the Kruger National Park (KNP), South Africa. African lions ( Panthera leo ) are susceptible to BTB, but the impact of the disease on lion populations is unknown. In this study, we used a novel gene expression assay for chemokine (C-X-C motif) ligand 9 (CXCL9) to measure the prevalence of M. bovis infection in 70 free-ranging lions that were opportunistically sampled in the southern and central regions of the KNP. In the southern region of the KNP, the apparent prevalence of M. bovis infection was 54% (95% confidence interval [CI]=36.9-70.5%), compared with 33% (95% CI=18.0-51.8%) in the central region, an important difference (P=0.08). Prevalence of M. bovis infection in lions showed similar patterns to estimated BTB prevalence in African buffaloes ( Syncerus caffer ) in the same areas. Investigation of other risk factors showed a trend for older lions, males, or lions with concurrent feline immunodeficiency virus infection to have a higher M. bovis prevalence. Our findings demonstrate that the CXCL9 gene expression assay is a useful tool for the determination of M. bovis status in free-ranging lions and identifies important epidemiologic trends for future studies.


African lion; CXCL9; Mycobacterium bovis; Panthera leo; feline immunodeficiency virus; risk factors for infection

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