Tuberculosis (TB) was diagnosed in four Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) in a zoo in the United States. The first case was detected by isolation of Mycobacterium tuberculosis during routine trunk wash (TW) culture testing of a herd of eight elephants. Retrospective antibody analyses revealed seroconversion 1 yr before diagnosis. Serological testing of the whole elephant herd identified two additional suspect bulls with detectable antibody, but which remained culture-negative and had no clinical signs of disease. In the following months, M. tuberculosis, identical to the isolate from the index case, was isolated from TW samples of these two elephants. A fourth elephant seroconverted nearly 4 yr after the first TB case was detected, and M. tuberculosis was isolated from a TW sample collected 1 mo later. All four infected elephants received anti-TB therapy. Two treated elephants were eventually euthanized for reasons unrelated to M. tuberculosis and found to be culture-negative on necropsy, although one of them had PCR-positive lung lesions. One infected animal had to be euthanized due to development of a drug-resistant strain of M. tuberculosis; this animal did not undergo postmortem examination due to risk of staff exposure. The fourth animal is currently on treatment. Serial serological and culture results of the other four herd mates have remained negative.
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