Two cases of atypical mycobacteriosis caused by Mycobacterium szulgai associated with mortality in captive African elephants (Loxodonta africana)

Claude Lacasse, Karen Terio, Michael J. Kinsel, Lisa L. Farina, Dominic A. Travis, Rena Greenwald, Konstantin P. Lyashchenko, Michele Miller, Kathryn C. Gamble

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

22 Scopus citations

Abstract

Mycobacterium szulgai was associated with mortality in two captive African elephants (Loxodonta africana) housed at Lincoln Park Zoo. The first elephant presented with severe, acute lameness of the left rear limb. Despite extensive treatments, the animal collapsed and died 13 mo after initial presentation. Necropsy revealed osteomyelitis with loss of the femoral head and acetabulum and pulmonary granulomas with intralesional M. szulgai. The second elephant collapsed during transport to another institution with no premonitory clinical signs. This animal was euthanized because of prolonged recumbency. Granulomatous pneumonia with intralesional M. szulgai was found at necropsy. Two novel immunoassays performed on banked serum samples detected antibody responses to mycobacterial antigens in both infected elephants. It was not possible to determine when the infection was established or how the elephants were infected. When reviewing the epidemiology of this organism in humans, however, transmission between elephants seemed unlikely because human-to-human transmission of this organism has never been reported and a third elephant in the herd was not affected. In addition to Mycobacterium bovis and Mycobacterium tuberculosis, atypical mycobacterial organisms need to be considered potentially pathogenic in elephants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-107
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine
Volume38
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2007

Keywords

  • African elephant
  • Atypical mycobacteriosis
  • Loxodonta africana
  • Mycobacterium szulgai
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Pneumonia

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