Elephant-mediated transmission of tuberculosis is assumed to be similar to human models, which state close and prolonged contact with an infected individual is required for transmission. Although considered a risk factor for infection, several case studies have reported that close contact with an elephant is not always necessary for transmission, and the role of aerosolized bacteria remains unclear. To investigate aerosol-mediated transmission of pathogenic bacteria from elephants, a method for the detection of aerosols using an adapted sampling system was developed. A commensal bacterium was isolated from the upper respiratory tract of elephants (Elephas maximus) and was used as a proxy organism to detect aerosolized droplets in the sampling system. It was found that elephants are capable of producing aerosolized bacterial particles of a size small enough to remain airborne for prolonged periods and penetrate the lower regions of the human respiratory tract.
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