Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Tuberculosis infection in wildlife from the Ruaha ecosystem Tanzania: implications for wildlife, domestic animals, and human health

  • D. L. CLIFFORD (a1) (a2), R. R. KAZWALA (a3), H. SADIKI (a3), A. ROUG (a1), E. A. MUSE (a4), P. C. COPPOLILLO (a5) (a6) and J. A. K. MAZET (a1)...

Mycobacterium bovis, a pathogen of conservation, livestock, and public health concern, was detected in eight species of wildlife inhabiting protected areas bordering endemic livestock grazing lands. We tested tissues from 179 opportunistically sampled hunter-killed, depredation, road-killed, and live-captured wild animals, representing 30 species, in and adjacent to Ruaha National Park in south-central Tanzania. Tissue culture and PCR were used to detect 12 (8·1%) M. bovis-infected animals and 15 (10·1%) animals infected with non-tuberculosis complex mycobacteria. Kirk's dik-dik, vervet monkey, and yellow baboon were confirmed infected for the first time. The M. bovis spoligotype isolated from infected wildlife was identical to local livestock, providing evidence for livestock–wildlife pathogen transmission. Thus we advocate an ecosystem-based approach for bovine tuberculosis management that improves critical ecological functions in protected areas and grazing lands, reduces focal population density build-up along the edges of protected areas, and minimizes ecological stressors that increase animals’ susceptibility to bovine tuberculosis.

Corresponding author
*Author for correspondence: Dr D. L. Clifford, Wildlife Health Center, One Shields Ave. University of California Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA. (Email:
Hide All
1. O Cosivi , Zoonotic tuberculosis due to Mycobacterium bovis in developing countries. Emerging Infectious Diseases 1998; 4: 5970.

2. E Etter , Risk analysis and bovine tuberculosis, a re-emerging zoonosis. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 2006; 1081: 6173.

3. KA Alexander , Mycobacterium tuberculosis: an emerging disease of free-ranging wildlife. Emerging Infectious Diseases 2002; 8: 598601.

5. AL Michel , Wildlife tuberculosis in South African conservation areas: implications and challenges. Veterinary Microbiology 2006; 112: 91100.

6. TC Rodwell , Prevalence of bovine tuberculosis in African buffalo at Kruger National Park. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 2001; 37: 258264.

7. A Caron , PC Cross , JT du Toit . Ecological implications of bovine tuberculosis in African buffalo herds. Ecological Applications 2003; 13: 13381345.

8. AE Jolles , DV Cooper , SA Levin . Hidden effects of chronic tuberculosis in African buffalo. Ecology 2005; 86: 22582264.

9. MH Woodford . Tuberculosis in wildlife in the Ruwenzori National Park Uganda (part I). Tropical Animal Health and Production 1982; 14: 8188.

10. G Kalema-Zikusoka , A preliminary investigation of tuberculosis and other diseases in African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda. Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research 2005; 72: 145151.

11. S Cleaveland , Tuberculosis in Tanzanian wildlife. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 2005; 41: 446453.

13. B Lankford , Entrenched views or insufficient science?: Contested causes and solutions of water allocation; insights from the Great Ruaha River Basin, Tanzania. Agricultural Water Management 2004; 69: 135153.

14. T Franks , BA Lankford , M Mdemu . Managing water amongst competing uses: the Usangu wetland in Tanzania. Irrigation and Drainage 2004; 53: 110.

15. JA Mazet , A ‘one health' approach to address emerging zoonoses: the HALI project in Tanzania. PLoS Medicine 2009; 6: e1000190.

16. RR Kazwala , Risk factors associated with the occurrence of bovine tuberculosis in cattle in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania. Veterinary Research Communications 2001; 25: 609614.

17. B Watt , A Rayner , G Harris . Modern methods in mycobacteriology. Reviews in Medical Microbiology 1993; 4: 97105.

19. S Wilton , D Cousins . Detection and identification of multiple mycobacterial pathogens by DNA amplification in a single tube. PCR Methods and Applications 1992; 1: 269273.

23. RR Kazwala , The molecular epidemiology of Mycobacterium bovis infections in Tanzania. Veterinary Microbiology 2006; 112: 201210.

24. DL Whipple , Comparison of purified protein derivatives and effect of skin testing on results of a commercial gamma interferon assay for diagnosis of tuberculosis in cattle. Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation 2001; 13: 117122.

25. AL Michel , Approaches towards optimising the gamma interferon assay for diagnosing Mycobacterium bovis infection in African buffalo (Syncerus caffer). Preventive Veterinary Medicine 2011; 98: 142151.

26. M Kulldorff , N Nagarwalla . Spatial disease clusters: detection and inference. Statistics in Medicine 1995; 14: 799810.

27. M Kulldorff . Prospective time periodic geographical disease surveillance using a scan statistic. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series A 2001; 164: 6172.

28. M Kulldorff , An elliptic spatial scan statistic. Statistics in Medicine 2006; 25: 39293943.

29. S Berg , African 2, a clonal complex of Mycobacterium bovis epidemiologically important in East Africa. Journal of Bacteriology 2011; 193: 670678.

30. R Tarara , Tuberculosis in wild olive baboons, Papio cynocephalus anubis (Lesson), in Kenya. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 1985; 21: 137140.

36. SM Schmitt , Bovine tuberculosis in Michigan wildlife and livestock. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 2002; 969: 262268.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Epidemiology & Infection
  • ISSN: 0950-2688
  • EISSN: 1469-4409
  • URL: /core/journals/epidemiology-and-infection
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 4
Total number of PDF views: 28 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 212 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 17th October 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.