Tuberculosis Caused by Mycobacterium orygis in a Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis): First Report in the Western Hemisphere
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2017
David Love1, DVM; Michael M. Garner2, DVM, DACVP; Konstantin P. Lyashchenko3, PhD; Alina Sikar-Gang3, MS; Michele Miller4, DVM, PhD, MPH; Daniel S. Bradway5,6, BS; Suelee Robbe-Austerman7, DVM, PhD; Jan Ramer1, DVM, DACZM
1The Wilds, Cumberland, OH, USA; 2Northwest ZooPath, Monroe, WA, USA; 3Chembio Diagnostics, Medford, NY, USA; 4South African Medical Research Council Centre for TB Research, Department of Science and Technology/National Research Foundation Centre of Excellence for Biomedical Tuberculosis Research, Division of Molecular Biology and Human Genetics, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa; 5Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, Pullman, WA, USA; 6Paul G Allen School for Global Animal Health, Pullman, WA, USA; 7United States Department of Agriculture, Mycobacteria and Brucella Section, National Veterinary Services Laboratories, Veterinary Services, Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, Ames, IA, USA


Mycobacterium orygis, a member of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC), has been isolated predominantly from hoofstock in eastern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, and occasionally in cattle, rhesus monkeys, humans, and greater one-horned (GOH) rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) in southern Asia, with documented zoonotic and zooanthroponotic transmission.1,5,7 Typically, rhinoceros develop chronic progressive respiratory disease as a result of MTBC infection.3 This report describes the postmortem diagnosis of tuberculosis caused by M. orygis in a GOH rhinoceros imported from India who developed hindlimb paresis due to neural granulomatosis. The postmortem use of dual path platform technology (DPP® VetTB Assay)a and multi-antigen print immunoassays (MAPIA)a to detect specific anti-MTBC antibodies prior to culture results on serum collected just before death from this rhinoceros allowed for appropriate preventive and management protocols to be initiated in the herd, highlighting the potential of serodiagnostics for antemortem diagnosis of tuberculosis in rhinoceros (Figures 1 and 2).2,8 Mycobacterium genus-specific PCR assaysb followed by direct sequencing allowed timely confirmation of the serology results.4,6 Banked serum collected up to 6 yr prior to death correlated closely with the course of clinical disease, suggesting latent infection originating from India.9 This is the first isolation of M. orygis within the western hemisphere, further exemplifying the need for more stringent testing prior to international shipment, and the urgency for validated antemortem MTBC screening assays in rhinoceros species.


a. Chembio Diagnostic Systems, Inc, 3661 Horseblock Road, Medford, NY, USA

b. Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab (WADDL), College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University, Bustad Hall Room 155N, Pullman, WA, USA


The authors would like to thank veterinary and animal management staff at The Wilds for their incredible care of this rhinoceros prior to its death. The authors also acknowledge the staff and laboratory technicians at Washington Animal Disease Diagnostics Laboratory and National Veterinary Services Laboratory for their diligent work with the sample testing for this case.

Figure 1
Antibody response against eight recombinant Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC) protein antigens (ESAT6, CFP10, MPB64, MPB70, MPB83, E6/P10, DID38, and DID65) and two native antigens (M. bovis purified protein derivative, B-PPD, and M. bovis culture filtrate, MBCF) detected by multi-antigen print immunoassay (MAPIA) in serum samples collected between 2010 and 2016 from a greater one-horned rhinoceros bull diagnosed in 2016 with tuberculosis from M. orygis infection.


Figure 2
Evolution of antibody response against the major Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex protein antigens, MPB83 and CFP10/ESAT6, detected by DPP VetTB assay in serum samples collected between 2010 and 2016 from a greater one-horned rhinoceros diagnosed in 2016 with tuberculosis from M. orygis infection. Optical reader value (Y-axis) reflectance measured in relative light units (RLU); broken line indicates cut-off value of 40 RLU, equal to threshold of visual test interpretation.


Literature Cited

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Speaker Information
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David Love, DVM
The Wilds
Cumberland, OH, USA

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