First report of Mycobacterium bovis in wild chacma baboons (Papio ursinus) at the human-wildlife interface area in Zambia.
Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis) causes tuberculosis in mammals and is a major public health threat worldwide. While M. bovis has been reported in humans, domestic and wild ruminants at the human-wildlife-livestock interface area in Zambia, there is paucity of information on the role of primates as reservoir hosts. We screened seven wild chacma baboons (Papio ursinus) for tuberculosis at the human-wildlife interface area in Lochinvar National Park in the Kafue Flats, Zambia. Following necropsy, lung tissue and associated lymph nodes with tuberculous-like lesions collected from four adult male baboons were prepared for Mycobacterium culture. The isolates were initially typed using the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex-discrimination multiplex PCR assay and further characterized by spoligotyping and 26-loci MIRU-VNTR. Mycobacteria were isolated from all four animals and identified as M. bovis by PCR. On Spoligotyping, all isolates belonged to SB 0120 spoligotype, which is similar to what was previously reported in humans, cattle and Kafue lechwe antelopes in Kafue Flats ecosystem. Furthermore, on MIRU-VNTR typing, the baboon isolates clustered with cattle and Kafue lechwe isolates from the same catchment area. This finding intimates probable cross-species transmission of M. bovis in the Kafue Flats ecosystem. Due to the close interaction of baboons and humans at interface areas in Zambia, our results have potential implications for public health. Equally, this finding raises concerns for conservation.