Diagnostic Investigation and Epidemiology of Tuberculosis at a British Zoo: A Preliminary Overview of a Multispecies Infection with a New Form of Mycobacterium
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2003
Sharon Redrobe, BSc (Hons), BVetMed, CertLAS, CertZooMed, MRCVS
Bristol Zoo Gardens, Veterinary Services, Bristol, UK


Tuberculosis (TB) infection was diagnosed at a United Kingdom zoo in 1996, in two wild-caught fur seals (Arctocephalus australis) and a captive born tapir (Tapirus terrestris). Retrospective DNA testing in 2001 found that these three cases were caused by the same Mycobacterium species (spoligotype 46). In 2000, a pudu (Pudu puda) died with suspected Mycobacterium infection and splenic Mycobacterium infection was an incidental postmortem finding in a gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) which died of other causes. Tuberculosis testing of the entire mammal collection ensued using intradermal tuberculin testing, thoracic radiography and examination of bronchoalveolar lavages. Biosecurity measures across the zoo site were implemented. The in vivo testing indicated tuberculosis in another gorilla, and TB of the same spoligotype was confirmed. Further tuberculosis cases in a llama (Lama glama) and a tapir were diagnosed using in vivo testing and confirmed at postmortem examination. DNA typing techniques confirmed the same strain of Mycobacterium to be involved in these cases; a new form of mycobacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis subsp. pinnipedae has been proposed.1

Literature Cited

1.  Cousins, D.V., A. Bernardelli, R. Bastida, A. Cataldi, V. Quse, S. Dow, S. Redrobe, P. Duignan, A. Murray, N. Ahmed, D.M. Collins, W.R. Butler, D. Dawson, D. Rodriguez, J. Loureiro, M.I. Romano, A. Alito, and M. Zumarraga. Tuberculosis in seals caused by a novel member of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex: Mycobacterium tuberculosis subsp. pinnipedae. IJSEM (in press).


Speaker Information
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Sharon Redrobe, BSc (Hons), BVetMed, CertLAS, CertZooMed, MRCVS
Bristol Zoo Gardens
Veterinary Services
Bristol, UK

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