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Response to the recent media coverage concerning tuberculosis (TB) in Nepal elephants

by ProMED — last modified Jan 10, 2013 08:03 AM ProMED In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only.
We (Elephant Care International) are supporting an elephant veterinary fellowship. This will be a dedicated position designed to assist the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation [Nepal] to address this complicated issue on a long-term basis. The position will be based at the Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science in Nepal. The position will begin July 2007 and we hope that this spurt of articles will not jeopardize this effort and collaboration.

We (Elephant Care International) are supporting an elephant veterinary fellowship. This will be a dedicated position designed to assist the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation [Nepal] to address this complicated issue on a long-term basis. The position will be based at the Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science in Nepal.

The position will begin July 2007 and we hope that this spurt of articles will not jeopardize this effort and collaboration.

The following statement is also posted on our website

http://www.elephantcare.org 

Nepal: A Leader in Addressing Tuberculosis (TB) in Elephants

Recent news reports have suggested that Nepalese authorities have been "apathetic" in treatment and care of elephants diagnosed with TB. The reality is that Nepal has taken the lead amongst all elephant range countries by initiating a program to examine its elephants for TB.

However, Nepal lacks the resources necessary for complete diagnosis and treatment of this disease in elephants. Nepal is not alone in this situation. Even in wealthy nations like the United States, the diagnosis and treatment of TB in elephants is undergoing intense scrutiny and change. New diagnostic methods have evolved and are only now being reviewed.

The initial investigation of TB in the elephants of Nepal was performed by a team of experts from Nepal and Elephant Care International, a U.S.-based charity organization devoted to elephant healthcare. A full report including recommendations for segregating "high risk" (for TB) elephants was delivered to Nepal authorities in December 2006. It is the understanding of Elephant Care International that the government of Nepal has taken the appropriate action of segregating "high risk" elephants from the public and other elephants.

Elephant Care International is funding a fulltime Elephant Veterinary Fellow who will operate under the auspices of The Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science (IAAS) of Nepal. This Nepali veterinarian will work with designated personnel from the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation to collect blood, culture, and other samples from elephants. The Fellow will play an integral role in the overall surveillance and health management and treatment program.

The process of establishing this program was slowed by the tragic helicopter accident last year [2006] in Nepal that killed many prominent conservationists and government officials, including several ministers and department heads.

Though Elephant Care International is obviously focused on elephants throughout Asia and Africa, TB is a devastating disease amongst humans. Nepal must rightly deal with the human situation first. In this context, we also point out that with regard to the threat to humans posed by TB, that threat is far greater from human contact than from casual elephant contact.

Additional information on the Elephant Care International Elephant TB Initiative can be found at:

http://www.elephantcare.org/tbshort.htm 

Further background information on work in Nepal is at:

http://www.elephantcare.org/tbnepal.htm 

Communicated by:

Susan K. Miikota DVM

Director of Veterinary Programs and Research Elephant Care International <

www.elephantcare.org>http://www.aphis.usda.gov/ac/TBGuidelines2003.pdf

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