Background: Bovine tuberculosis and tuberculosis are chronic infectious diseases caused by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex members, Mycobacterium bovis and Mycobacterium tuberculosis, respectively. Infection with M. bovis and M. tuberculosis have significant implications for wildlife species management, public health, veterinary disease control, and conservation endeavours.
Results: Here we describe the first use of the VetMAXTM Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC) DNA quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) detection kit for wildlife samples. DNA was extracted from tissues harvested from 48 African buffaloes and MTBC DNA was detected (test-positive) in all 26 M. bovis culture-confirmed animals with an additional 12 PCR-positive results in culture-negative buffaloes (originating from an exposed population). Of six MTBC-infected African rhinoceros tested, MTBC DNA was detected in antemortem and postmortem samples from five animals. The PCR was also able to detect MTBC DNA in samples from two African elephants confirmed to have M. bovis and M. tuberculosis infections (one each). Culture-confirmed uninfected rhinoceros and elephants’ samples tested negative in the PCR assay.
Conclusions: These results suggest this new detection kit is a sensitive screening test for the detection of MTBC-infected African buffaloes, African elephants and white rhinoceros.