Seropositive, Culture Negative Tuberculosis in an Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2010

Erica Wilson1, DVM; Susan Mikota2, DVM; John Bradford3; Melissa Dickson3, PhD; Michele A. Miller4, DVM, MS, PhD; Genevieve Dumonceaux5, DVM

1Dickerson Park Zoo, Springfield, MO, USA; 2Elephant Care, Hohenwald, TN, USA; 3Dickerson Park Zoo, Springfield, MO, USA; 4West Palm Beach, FL, USA; 5The Florida Aquarium, Tampa, FL, USA


In 2009, a 60-yr-old female Asian elephant was tested using the newest USDA guidelines of trunk washes in addition to blood collection for TB STAT pak testing. In 2010, TB STAT pak results indicate that this elephant was positive, but trunk wash culture was negative. Blood submitted to ChemBio Diagnostic Systems, Inc. for MAPIA was positive for Mycobacterium tuberculi/bovis. After discussion with USDA and many elephant authorities, it was determined that this elephant was at an increased risk for developing clinical disease. Anti-tuberculocidal therapy was then initiated for the next 9 mo for this elephant. Side effects of inappetance, front leg stiffness and lethargy were observed periodically throughout therapy. During the current 9-mo therapy, blood was collected weekly for serum banking. CBC’s and chemistries were run monthly with no current abnormalities noted. Pharmacokinetic studies were performed regularly, and staff communication was intense with other outside sources for support. At the 3-mo mark, serum was submitted for MAPIA to monitor for seroconversion. In addition, the herd management of four other Asian elephants was intensified with regular trunk washes, CBC’s and chemistries, and TB STAT pak testing twice yearly.


The author would like to thank all of the co-authors for all of their advise, assistance and support. We would also like to thank Konstantin Lyashchenko, PhD for all of his assistance with this case, and Grove Pharmacy staff for all of their assistance in delivering medications and going above and beyond for acquiring all of the necessary medications.


Speaker Information
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Erica Wilson, DVM
Dickerson Park Zoo
Springfield, MO, USA

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