Elephant spread TB to workers at Tenn. sanctuary

February 16, 2011 By MIKE STOBBE , AP Medical Writer

(AP) -- A tuberculosis outbreak among workers at a Tennessee elephant sanctuary in 2009 is being blamed on one of the pachyderms, even though some of the employees didn't have close contact with the animal.

Elephants can carry TB, and there have been reports of them spreading it to people who touch them. In this instance, TB spread to eight employees, though three of them didn't work directly with the elephant, according to a report released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The three worked in an administrative building next to an elephant barn at the refuge in Hohenwald, about 85 miles southwest of Nashville. The 2,700-acre Elephant Sanctuary was founded in 1995 as a place for old, sick and rescued elephants.

One elephant in the barn had been diagnosed with tuberculosis. Investigators believe the TB bacteria spread through the air when the elephant sneezed, or through pressure washing or dust from sweeping the barn.

The eight employees tested positive on a skin test and are receiving treatment, but are not sick or hazardous to others, sanctuary officials said in a statement Wednesday.

The report from officials at the CDC, the Tennessee Department of Health and Vanderbilt University is in the CDC journal, Emerging Infectious Diseases. The authors call for better methods for diagnosing TB in elephants and more measures to protect employees from infection.

This week, officials with the sanctuary filed court papers claiming its co-founder and former CEO, Carol Buckley, created a hostile work environment and was lax about workers' health at the site.

Sanctuary officials claimed Buckley failed to implement infection controls for elephant caregivers as regulators suggested before the workers tested positive for TB.

The claim was in response to a lawsuit filed by Buckley in October. Buckley - who was fired last year - is seeking $500,000 in damages and visitation rights to one of the sanctuary's elephants.

More information: Report: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/index.htm


Related Stories

Recommended for you

A multimodal intervention to reduce one of the most common healthcare-acquired infections

March 16, 2018
Surgical site infections are the most frequent health care-associated infections in developing countries. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), this type of infection can affect up to one-third of surgical patients ...

After infection, herpes lurks in nerve cells, ready to strike—New research reveals what enables the virus to do so

March 15, 2018
Once herpes simplex infects a person, the virus goes into hiding inside nerve cells, hibernating there for life, periodically waking up from its sleep to reignite infection, causing cold sores or genital lesions to recur.

New imaging approach offers unprecedented views of staph infection

March 14, 2018
Eric Skaar, PhD, MPH, marvels at the images on his computer screen—3-D molecular-level views of infection in a mouse. "I'm pretty convinced that these are the most advanced images in infection biology," said Skaar, Ernest ...

Parasitic worms need their intestinal microflora too

March 14, 2018
Scientists at The University of Manchester have cast new light on a little understood group of worm infections, which collectively afflicts 1 in 4 people, mainly children—in the developing the world.

Compound scores key win in battle against antibiotic resistance

March 14, 2018
Researchers at Oregon State University have made a key advance in the fight against drug resistance, crafting a compound that genetically neutralizes a widespread bacterial pathogen's ability to thwart antibiotics.

Helicobacter creates immune system blind spot

March 13, 2018
The gastric bacterium H. pylori colonizes the stomachs of around half the human population and can lead to the development of gastric cancer. It is usually acquired in childhood and persists life-long, despite a strong inflammatory ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.