Wildlife Disease and Zoonotics


Date of this Version



Published in J Vet Diagn Invest 4:423-427 (1992).


A naturally occurring outbreak of Mycobacterium bovid infection in captive wild elk (wapiti) in Montana was confirmed by mycobacteriologic examination. Twenty-eight of 143 elk responded to M. bovis purified protein derivative (PPD) tuberculin injected intradermally in the cervical region (SCT). The results of comparative cervical tuberculin skin tests conducted within 9 days of SCT revealed greater responses to M. bovis PPD tuberculin than to M. avium PPD tuberculin in 23 of 28 elk responding. At necropsy, several grossly visible tuberculous lesions were observed in the parenchyma of the lung, thoracic lymph nodes, and submandibular lymph nodes. Microscopic examination of appropriately stained tissue sections revealed the presence of granulomatous lesions containing acid-fast bacilli. An enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was developed using a sarkosyl extract of M. bovis (antigen) and peroxidase-labeled protein G (conjugate); reactions were detected in the sera of 8 of 9 elk responding to M. bovis PPD tuberculin. Lymphocyte blastogenic assay responses were detected using M. bovis antigens in 7 of 9 elk positive on skin tests using M. bovis PPD.