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Human TB threat to wild elephants

Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan.
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Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan.

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Elephant Care International, Hohenwald, Tennessee, USA.

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Wild African and Asian elephants are at risk of infection by a human form of tuberculosis (TB). Long known to be fatal in captive elephants, Mycobacterium tuberculosis has been found in wild elephants in Sri Lanka, India and, most recently, in South Africa’s Kruger National Park (M. A. Miller et al. Front. Vet. Sci. 6, 18; 2019). The source of infection remains unknown.

Should human TB become established in the wild, the consequences to already endangered African and Asian elephant populations could be devastating. We call on the authorities — including government agencies, non-government organizations and local stakeholders — to step up surveillance and devise effective control and prevention strategies.

Nature 571, 174 (2019)

doi: 10.1038/d41586-019-02114-5

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