15 percent of captive elephants in South India have TB

The first exhaustive study of captive elephants in southern India has found that 15.25 percent of them suffer from tuberculosis.Principal investigator of the two-year-long study Jacob Cheeran told IANS that the study was done on 387 captive elephants in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands; 59 of the elephants had TB.

“The studies on the health of captive elephants with special attention on TB was conducted by the Bangalore-based NGO Asian Nature and Conservation Foundation (ANCP),” said Cheeran, a veteran veterinarian and elephant expert.
He said phlegm samples taken from the trunks of these elephants and blood samples were collected and analysed. “In these states there are approximately a little more than 1,000 captive elephants,” Cheeran said.

“The largest percentage of TB affected elephants were in temples. Of the 63 temple elephants we studied, 16 were suffering from TB. Of the 160 privately owned elephants, 24 had TB. Of the 164 owned by forest departments of various state governments, 19 had TB.” Cheeran said it was high time the authorities took note of this and began a project to see that treatment was provided to these elephants. “Like human beings, elephants suffering from TB can be treated, but then a proper road map has to be drawn out because the treatment would be a long one. The biggest challenge is that this disease is zoonotic in nature (it can be transmitted from man to animal and vice versa), so authorities should act,” he added

September 10th, 2008 (IANS)

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