Scientists monitoring possible spread of TB in elephants (South Africa)



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MPUMALANGA: The Kruger National Park is monitoring the possible spread of a human strain of TB after one elephant was killed in 2016 and tested positive for the disease. It was the first case ever recorded in the park’s elephant population. Since then, researchers have been conducting tests on elephants to see whether the infection has spread.

Blood samples are taken, the animal’s respiration is monitored while a large tube is placed down its throat.
Stellenbosch University’s Professor Michele Miller said about 35 elephants have been tested. “We are targeting older bulls which seem to be more susceptible and therefore it’d present we hope to pick it up.

“We have tests that suggest that it’s present at very low levels in the park.”

Only the bovine TB has been documented in various species in the Kruger National Park, while the human strain has been found in elephants kept in zoos. It is theorised the strain could have been transferred to elephants through contact with contaminated material in tourist or staff areas.

Officials in the park are hopeful that the 2016 incident may have been an isolated one. Researchers will continue to conduct tests over the next three years.