European Journal of Wildlife Research

, Volume 61, Issue 2, pp 221–229 | Cite as

Tuberculosis surveillance of elephants (Elephas maximus) in Nepal at the captive-wild interface

  • Susan K. Mikota
  • Kamal Gairhe
  • Kamal Giri
  • Karin Hamilton
  • Michele Miller
  • Sarad Paudel
  • Konstantin Lyashchenko
  • R. Scott Larsen
  • Janet B. Payeur
  • W. Ray Waters
  • Rena Greenwald
  • Genevieve Dumonceaux
  • Barbara Vincent
  • Gretchen E. Kaufman
Original Paper

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Asian elephant Elephas maximus Tuberculosis Serology Multi-print immunoassay (MAPIA) 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan K. Mikota
    • 1
  • Kamal Gairhe
    • 2
  • Kamal Giri
    • 3
  • Karin Hamilton
    • 4
  • Michele Miller
    • 5
  • Sarad Paudel
    • 6
  • Konstantin Lyashchenko
    • 7
  • R. Scott Larsen
    • 8
  • Janet B. Payeur
    • 9
  • W. Ray Waters
    • 10
  • Rena Greenwald
    • 7
  • Genevieve Dumonceaux
    • 11
  • Barbara Vincent
    • 1
  • Gretchen E. Kaufman
    • 12
  1. 1.Elephant Care InternationalHohenwaldUSA
  2. 2.Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation SaurahaChitwan National ParkBiratnagarNepal
  3. 3.Government of NepalBiratnagarNepal
  4. 4.College of Veterinary MedicineUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA
  5. 5.Division of Molecular Biology and Human Genetics, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, DST/NRF Centre of Excellence for Biomedical Tuberculosis Research, MRC Centre for Molecular and Cellular BiologyStellenbosch UniversityTygerbergSouth Africa
  6. 6.Laboratory of Wildlife Biology and Medicine, Graduate School of Veterinary MedicineHokkaido UniversitySapporoJapan
  7. 7.Chembio Diagnostic Systems, Inc.MedfordUSA
  8. 8.Denver ZooDenverUSA
  9. 9.USDA APHIS National Veterinary Services LaboratoriesAmesUSA
  10. 10.National Animal Disease Center, Agricultural Research ServiceUS Department of AgricultureAmesUSA
  11. 11.West Palm Beach ZooWest Palm BeachUSA
  12. 12.Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal HealthWashington State UniversityPullmanUSA

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