A survey to determine the bovine tuberculosis status of buffalo herds north of the Olifants River in the Kruger National Park was conducted, using a new diagnostic approach. Diagnosis of Mycobacterium bovis infection was accomplished using the gamma-interferon assay technique in 608 adult buffaloes out of a total of 29 discreet herds. The animals were immobilized in groups of 10-15, bled, individually marked and then revived and released on site. As soon as test results were available (after 26-36 h), the same buffalo herd was relocated by tracking the frequency of a radio-collar previously fitted to one adult cow per group during the initial operation. Bovine reactors were identified, darted and euthanased from the helicopter. Necropsy and culture findings of all culled buffaloes showed excellent correlation with the results of the ante-mortem gamma-interferon test. The survey revealed that over and above the two positive herds that had been identified during a previous survey carried out in 1996, there were three additional, but previously unidentified, infected herds in the region north of the Olifants River.
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