Genitourinary and pulmonary multidrug resistant mycobacterium tuberculosis infection in an Asian elephant (Elephas maximus)

Genevieve A. Dumonceaux, Judy St Leger, John H. Olsen, Michael S. Burton, David Ashkin, Joel N. Maslow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


A female Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) developed vaginal and trunk discharge. Cultures were positive for pan-susceptible Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Isoniazid and pyrazinamide were given rectally and monitored by serum levels. After being trained at 10 mo to accept oral dosing, treatment was changed and rifampin was added. Oral medications were administered for another 10 mo. A year after completion of therapy, the vaginal discharge increased and cultures yielded M. tuberculosis, resistant to isoniazid and rifampin. Treatment with oral ethambutol, pyrazinamide, and enrofloxacin and intramuscular amikacin was initiated. Although follow-up cultures became negative, adverse reactions to medications precluded treatment completion. Due to public health concerns related to multidrug resistant M. tuberculosis (MDR-TB), the elephant was euthanized. Postmortem smears from the lung, peribronchial, and abdominal lymph nodes yielded acid-fast bacteria, although cultures were negative. This case highlights important considerations in the treatment of M. tuberculosis in animals and the need for a consistent approach to diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)709-712
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2011


  • elephant
  • Elephas maximus
  • multidrug resistant tuberculosis
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • tuberculosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • veterinary(all)


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