Field application of serodiagnostics to identify elephants with tuberculosis prior to case confirmation by culture

Clin Vaccine Immunol. 2012 Aug;19(8):1269-75. doi: 10.1128/CVI.00163-12. Epub 2012 Jun 13.


Three serologic methods for antibody detection in elephant tuberculosis (TB), the multiantigen print immunoassay (MAPIA), ElephantTB STAT-PAK kit, and DPP VetTB test, were evaluated using serial serum samples from 14 captive elephants infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis in 5 countries. In all cases, serological testing was performed prior to the diagnosis of TB by mycobacterial culture of trunk wash or tissue samples collected at necropsy. All elephants produced antibody responses to M. tuberculosis antigens, with 13/14 recognizing ESAT-6 and/or CFP10 proteins. The findings supported the high serodiagnostic test accuracy in detecting infections months to years before M. tuberculosis could be isolated from elephants. The MAPIA and/or DPP VetTB assay demonstrated the potential for monitoring antimycobacterial therapy and predicting TB relapse in treated elephants when continuously used in the posttreatment period. History of exposure to TB and past treatment information should be taken into consideration for proper interpretation of the antibody test results. Data suggest that the more frequent trunk wash culture testing of seropositive elephants may enhance the efficiency of the TB diagnostic algorithm, leading to earlier treatment with improved outcomes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood
  • Antigens, Bacterial / immunology
  • Bacterial Proteins / immunology
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques / methods*
  • Drug Monitoring / methods
  • Elephants*
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / immunology*
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / isolation & purification
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic
  • Recurrence
  • Serologic Tests / methods
  • Tuberculosis / diagnosis
  • Tuberculosis / veterinary*
  • Veterinary Medicine / methods*


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • CFP-10 protein, Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • ESAT-6 protein, Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic