7 Oregon Zoo staff members contract TB from 3 infected Elephants

7 Oregon Zoo staff members contract TB from 3 infected Elephants

A tuberculosis outbreak spread among three elephants at the Oregon Zoo in 2013 has now infected seven zoo staff members. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that the seven zoo members have tested positive for tuberculosis after contract the same from the elephants in their care.

All of the members have a latent form of the disease and therefore, did not now display symptoms. The CDC has said that the respiratory disease is not contagious. Dr. Jennifer Vines, deputy health officer for Multnomah County, said that they were not having much knowledge about the transmission of tuberculosis from elephants to people.

As per the CDC, it is one of the many illnesses that can pass on from animals to humans. The CDC report has unveiled that around 5% of the captive Asian elephants in North America are infected with TB. Rachel Mathews, counsel with PETA's Captive Animals Law Enforcement unit said, “People concerned about their own health as well as the elephants' should stay far away from circuses, elephant rides, and any other cash-grabbing stunts still featuring elephants”.

The outbreak at the zoo started in May 2013. At that time, one of the elephants named Rama was tested positive for tuberculosis. During that time, annual checkups were carried out on animals for TB. In order to test them, secretions from their trunks were tested. From these tests, other two elephants- Packy in December 2013 and Tusko in June 2014 were tested positive.

Bob Lee, the zoo's elephant curator, said that when the animals were tested positive for tuberculosis, they were put on one-month long round of treatment and public was asked to maintain a distance of at least 100 feet from elephants. Two of the three infected elephants were put to death owing to their painful injuries. Rama suffered from an old leg injury and Tusko had a decades-old foot problem.

Multnomah County epidemiologists tried to identify human cases and found 118 people who were at risk for the disease through coughing and sneezing.