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ABQ BioPark Zoo explains what’s next for elephant who tested positive for tuberculosis

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Albert, an elephant at the ABQ Biopark Zoo, recently tested positive for tuberculosis. (Courtesy of ABQ Biopark Zoo).

An elephant at the ABQ Biopark Zoo has tested positive for tuberculosis, the zoo announced Tuesday.

The Asian bull elephant, Albert, is currently isolated from other elephants and the public while awaiting treatment and poses no threat to visitors, says Carol, the Biopark veterinarian in charge of his care. Dr. Bradford said

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that is spread through water droplets in the air and can be transmitted through close contact with infected people or animals. This particular strain of tuberculosis only infects primates, humans and elephants, and it is possible, but unlikely, that zookeepers will become infected, Bradford said.

“Tuberculosis, unlike COVID-19 or measles, is not easily passed from person to person or elephant to elephant, so it is not really very contagious,” Bradford said. said Mr.

Nonetheless, as a precautionary measure, zookeepers and veterinarians who need to be in close contact with Albert for his continued care will wear N95 masks and will be tested regularly for tuberculosis.

Fortunately, veterinarians detected Albert’s tuberculosis early. Noticing that Albert’s blood count was higher than normal, indicating that his immune system was gearing up to fight some disease, veterinarians used a method called a torso wash in late March to give Albert a boost. I have decided to test you for tuberculosis.

Nasal lavage is in some ways similar to a human nasal swab, but tailored to the long elephant nose. A keeper uses a plastic syringe to squirt saline into the elephant’s trunk, which lifts its trunk to hold the liquid before spraying the saline and mucus into a plastic bag. Elephants undergo these tests on a regular basis.

“Like humans, early detection is key, and that’s exactly what happened to our friend Albert here,” said Biopark Director Stephanie Stowell.

With Albert’s previous health and early detection of the disease, Bradford expects the elephant to overcome tuberculosis in 12 to 16 months. At this stage, Albert is asymptomatic, and the only major side effect Bradford expects is weight loss from the treatment.

“We are really confident he will be free from the disease,” Bradford said.

It is still unknown how Albert contracted the disease.

Bradford said there are three possibilities. Before Albert arrived at Biopark, he may have contracted tuberculosis at age five or younger. It’s also possible that he got infected from another elephant in the biopark. Elephants contracted tuberculosis in 2000 and again in 2010, in an undetectable, non-contagious, dormant form, with active tuberculosis emerging only a few years later. Alternatively, Albert may have contracted tuberculosis from a zoo employee with whom he had close contact. Results indicating the origin of the disease will be available within the next few weeks.

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