1Department of Ecosystem and Public Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada; 2Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Kerala Agricultural University, India; 3Veterinary Programs and Research, Elephant Care International, TN, USA
India has the largest surviving population of Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) in the world. Captive Asian elephants in southern India are maintained in different ownership and management regimes. Indices of body, foot, eye, and skin; as well as wounds and injuries; and laboratory test results of clinical samples like whole blood, serum, urine, and dung were used to evaluate the health status of each elephant. Seroepidemiology of six major infectious diseases was also analyzed. For tuberculosis diagnosis, the rapid serum test, ElephantTB STAT-PAK® and trunk wash culture were used. Overall seroprevalence of tuberculosis among captive Asian elephants in southern India was nearly 15%. The sub-group with highest interaction with humans namely, the temple elephants, showed higher seroprevalence (25%) compared to elephants maintained by private individuals (15%) and state forest departments (10%). This study covered captive elephants in the states of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Elephant health records, with all results of individual elephants, were distributed to the field veterinarians and owners/managers. Population health status gives an indication of the major health problems prevalent in these different groups of elephants and can be a useful tool for suggesting appropriate preventive healthcare.