Bovine tuberculosis, caused by Mycobacterium bovis, is a pathogen of growing concern in free-ranging wildlife in Africa, but little is known about the disease in Tanzanian wildlife. Here, we report the infection status of Mycobacterium bovis in a range of wildlife species sampled from protected areas in northern Tanzania. M. bovis was isolated from 11.1% (2/18) migratory wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus) and 11.1% (1/9) topi (Damaliscus lunatus) sampled systematically in 2000 during a meat cropping program in the Serengeti ecosystem, and from one wildebeest and one lesser kudu (Tragelaphus imberbis) killed by sport hunters adjacent to Tarangire National Park. A tuberculosis antibody enzyme immunoassay (EIA) was used to screen serum samples collected from 184 Serengeti lions (Panthera leo) and 19 lions from Ngorongoro Crater sampled between 1985 and 2000. Samples from 212 ungulates collected throughout the protected area network between 1998 and 2001 also were tested by EIA. Serological assays detected antibodies to M. bovis in 4% of Serengeti lions; one positive lion was sampled in 1984. Antibodies were detected in one of 17 (6%) buffalo (Syncerus caffer) in Tarangire and one of 41 (2%) wildebeest in the Serengeti. This study confirms for the first time the presence of bovine tuberculosis in wildlife of northern Tanzania, but further investigation is required to assess the impact on wildlife populations and the role of different wildlife species in maintenance and transmission.
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