Epidemiology and Infection

Original Papers

Bovine tuberculosis/M bovis

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

D. L. CLIFFORDa1a2 c1, R. R. KAZWALAa3, H. SADIKIa3, A. ROUGa1, E. A. MUSEa4, P. C. COPPOLILLOa5a6 and J. A. K. MAZETa1

a1 Wildlife Health Center, One Health Institute, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA, USA

a2 Wildlife Investigations Laboratory, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Rancho Cordova, CA, USA

a3 Department of Veterinary Medicine and Public Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Morogoro, Tanzania

a4 Ruaha National Park, Tanzania National Parks, Arusha, Tanzania

a5 Ruaha Landscape Programme, Wildlife Conservation Society, Iringa, Tanzania

a6 Working Dogs for Conservation, Three Forks, MT, USA


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.

(Received November 30 2012)

(Revised March 04 2013)

(Accepted March 13 2013)

(Online publication April 22 2013)

Key words

  • One health;
  • tuberculosis (TB);
  • veterinary epidemiology and bacteriology;
  • wildlife disease;
  • zoonoses


c1 Author for correspondence: Dr D. L. Clifford, Wildlife Health Center, One Shields Ave. University of California Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA. (Email: dlclifford@ucdavis.edu)