Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) was first diagnosed in the Kruger National Park (KNP) in
1990 and research has since focused primarily on the buffalo (Syncerus caffer) as
the maintenance host and lion (Panthera leo) as a clinically affected species.
However, little is known about the role that small predators might play in the
tuberculosis epidemiology. The aim of this pilot study was to screen banded
mongoose populations in the bTB high prevalence zone of the KNP for mycobacteria
in general and for Mycobacterium bovis and other Mycobacterium tuberculosis
complex members in particular to detect presence of infection.
Faecal swabs, tracheal swabs and tracheal lavage of 76 banded mongooses caught
in cage traps within a two kilometre radius of Skukuza Rest Camp in the KNP were
submitted for culture, isolation and speciation of Mycobacterium as the gold standard
of bTB diagnosis. Blood was collected and serologically analysed for M. bovis and
Mycobacterium tuberculosis antibodies using the ElephantTB STAT-PAK® Assay
(STAT-PAK) and the EnferplexTM TB Assay (Enferplex). DPP® VetTB Assay for
elephants (DPP) was used on STAT-PAK positive samples. To complement the sample set obtained from live banded mongooses 12 animals were necropsied.
Lesions and pooled lymph node samples together with a standard set of organ
samples were submitted for culture and histopathology analysis.
Two banded mongooses had developed well demarcated, irregularly margined, greyyellow
nodules of up to 5 mm diameter located in the caudal lung lobes and/ or
tracheo-bronchial, retropharyngeal or superficial cervical lymph nodes. These lesions
were characterised by central necrosis in the one and calcification in the other
animal. Histopathologically the lesions were described as caseating necrosis
associated with epithelioid macrophages and necrogranuloma with calcified centre
respectively. No acid fast bacteria were identified with Ziehl-Neelsen stain.
M. bovis was isolated from lung, lymph node and liver samples as well as tracheal
lavages and tracheal swab from the same two banded mongooses but not from any
other study animal. No other Mycobacterium of the M. tuberculosis complex was
isolated. However, a variety of environmental mycobacteria, the most frequent from
the Mycobacterium avium complex, M. fortuitum group, M. simiae group and
M. terrae group, were cultured. M. fortuitum group was only and M. terrae group
predominantly isolated from tracheal and faecal samples whereas M. simiae group
and M. avium complex were the most frequent species isolated from post mortem
samples, including tissue lesions and lymph nodes.
Serological analysis revealed 12 banded mongooses with a positive STAT-PAK
result, confirmed with DPP. Enferplex was positive for MPB83 in four and MPB70
peptide in one animal. Only two banded mongooses, the ones with the strongest
positive reaction on both STAT-PAK and DPP, reacted positively on all three
serological assays. These were the same two animals that had developed
granulomatous lesions and that M. bovis was cultured from ante and post mortem
In conclusion, this study has provided the first evidence of bTB infection in banded
mongooses in the KNP and demonstrated their ability to shed M. bovis. This finding
has opened the discussion around possible sources of infection and its significance
at the human/ wildlife interface in and around Skukuza.
Dissertation (MMedVet)--University of Pretoria, 2014.