Seven workers at the Oregon Zoo in Portland were infected with tuberculosis (TB) following an outbreak starting in 2013 among three bull elephants.
According to a report published Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the seven people who developed a latent tuberculosis infection had close contact with the elephants. An eighth person, also developed a mysterious case of tuberculosis.
‘The seven people who developed a latent tuberculosis infection at the Oregon Zoo in Portland had close contact with elephants.’
Dr. Jennifer Vines, deputy health officer for Multnomah County, said that none of those individuals were infectious and nobody in the public was at risk.
The report adds to the somewhat thin knowledge about the transmission of TB from elephants to people.
The good news is that even though TB is highly contagious, the three infected elephants at the zoo did not spread the disease to visitors and foreigners.
TB is a respiratory disease that's spread through the air when a person - or in this case elephant - coughs, sneezes or otherwise spreads the bacteria.
About 5% of the captive Asian elephants in North America are infected. The disease can be deadly to elephants. Three pachyderms at an exotic animal farm in Illinois died from the disease between 1994 and 1996. One handler in that outbreak got sick as well.