Tuberculosis in Human and Non-Human Primates: A Challenge in a Developing Country
Mycobacterium tuberculosis has been reported in a wide range of captive species2,3 including Asian elephants (Elephas maximus), chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and parrots, and as an emerging disease in free-living banded mongoose (Mungos mungo) and suricates (Suricata suricatta).1
M. tuberculosis is primarily a human pathogen and of great concern to health professionals in sub-Saharan Africa due to an increased incidence associated with high rates of infection with human immunodeficiency virus. Uganda is now ranked 14 out of 22 countries that have been identified as contributing 80% of the global burden of M. tuberculosis.4,5 This report documents M. tuberculosis in two chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and an unidentified Mycobacterium in a grey-cheeked mangabey (Lophocebus albigena) at the Uganda Wildlife Education Center (UWEC) from 2002 to 2005. The challenges of maintaining susceptible captive nonhuman primates in close contact with a human population with a high rate of tuberculosis are complex and involve a multidisciplinary approach to preventing M. tuberculosis in these animals.
1. Alexander, A.K., et al. 2002. Mycobacterium tuberculosis: An emerging disease of free ranging wildlife. Emerg. Infect. Dis. 2002 Jun; 8: 598–601.
2. Miava, B. 1997. Tuberculosis in captive elephants. Proc. Am. Assoc. Zoo Vet. Annu. Conf. Meet. Pp. 116–119.
3. Michel, A., et al. 2005. Mycobacterium tuberculosis infections in eight species at the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa, 1991–2001. J. Zoo Wildl. Med. 34: 364–370.
4. WHO/Global tuberculosis control: surveillance, planning, financing. 2006. WHO/HTM/TB/2006.362
5. www.usaid.gov/our_work/global_health/id/tuberculosis/countries/africa/uganda_profile.htm (VIN editor: This link was not accessible as of 1-25-21.)