Open Access Short Report

Failure to detect tuberculosis in Black lechwe antelopes (Kobus leche smithemani) in Zambia

Musso Munyeme1*, John B Muma1, Hetron M Munang'andu2, King S Nalubamba3, Clovice Kankya4, Eystein Skjerve4, Jacques Godfroid5 and Morten Tryland5

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Disease Control, The University of Zambia, School of Veterinary Medicine, P.O. Box 32379 Lusaka, Zambia

2 Department of Basic Sciences and Aquatic Medicine, Section of Aquatic Medicine and Nutrition, Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, P.O. Box 8146 Dep., 0033 Oslo, Norway

3 Department of Clinical Studies, The University of Zambia, School of Veterinary Medicine, P.O. Box 32379 Lusaka, Zambia

4 Department of Food Safety and Infection Biology, Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, P.O. Box 8146 Dep., 0033 Oslo, Norway

5 Department of Food Safety and Infection Biology, Section of Arctic Veterinary Medicine, Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, Stakkevollveien 23, N-9010 Tromsø, Norway

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BMC Research Notes 2011, 4:233  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-233

Published: 5 July 2011

Abstract

Background

Two types of lechwe antelopes exclusively exist in their natural ecosystems in Zambia; the Black lechwe (Kobus leche smithemani) and the Kafue lechwe (Kobus leche kafuensis). Despite inhabiting similar ecosystems, tuberculosis has been reported in Kafue lechwe without its documentation in Black lechwe antelopes. However, the past few decades have seen a drastic decline in both lechwe populations. Whereas studies have postulated that infectious diseases such as tuberculosis are having a negative impact on the Kafue lechwe population, no information is available on Black lechwe antelopes. Thus this study was conducted to investigate tuberculosis in Black lechwe antelopes of the Bangweulu swamps in comparison with the Kafue lechwe antelopes of Lochinvar.

Findings

A total of 44 lechwe antelopes (Black (n = 30): Kafue (n = 14) were sampled from Bangweulu and Lochinvar respectively. A positive case was defined with findings of gross lesions with Ziehl Nielsen and culture confirmation. Out of the 14 animals examined in Lochinvar, 21.4% [95% CI: 15.4, 44.4%] had necropsy lesions consistent with tuberculosis. The corresponding samples from 30 Black lechwe of Bangweulu yielded negative results on all the three tests.

Conclusions

Current findings from this study intimate the possible absence of tuberculosis in Black lechwe antelopes whilst confirming the presence of tuberculosis in Kafue lechwe of the Kafue basin. The absence of tuberculosis in the Black lechwe suggests that the observed population decline may not be caused by tuberculosis. However, without detailed molecular epidemiological studies it is not possible to determine the association of M. bovis infection in sympatric animal populations. The possible role of transmission of tuberculosis between wildlife and cattle is discussed herein. Findings