Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) causes chronic, progressive, and consecutively fatal enteritis, especially in ruminants. MAP distribution among wildlife is not yet clear. In this study, three wild-born rock hyraxes (Procavia capensis) had been imported from South Africa to a German zoological garden. During the quarantine period, four young animals were born. The wild-born animals showed symptoms of mild diarrhea shortly after their arrival in the zoological garden, but all routine parasitological and bacteriologic tests performed were negative. Therefore, the animals were additionally tested for MAP infection. MAP DNA was detected by seminested PCR (snPCR) in a pooled fecal sample of the seven animals. Subsequent PCR analysis of the individual feces samples confirmed the excretion of MAP in two rock hyraxes (one wild-born and one born in captivity). Sequence analysis of the corresponding 278-bp amplicons revealed 100% homology to the reference MAP-K10 IS900 sequence. No antibody response against MAP was detected in the individual serum samples. MAP-specific postmortem lesions were not observed by gross pathology and histology, neither after death nor after euthanization of the animals. Nevertheless, MAP was detected by snPCR and culture in the gastrointestinal tract, urogenital tract, cardiovascular system, and/or respiratory system of three other animals of the group (one wild-born and two born in captivity). This study is the first report confirming MAP occurrence in rock hyraxes. Therefore, it is recommended that veterinarians and zoo employees consider rock hyraxes as a possible source of MAP infection for domestic livestock in South Africa and the valuable animal stock of zoological facilities.
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