Tuberculosis in African Wildlife and Other Infectious Diseases of African Lions


Infectious animal tuberculosis, caused by Mycobacterium bovis, is a serious disease spread among numerous wildlife species in southern Africa where it has established itself as a significant problem in lions and other species conserved in the wildlife parks and game reserves of the region. There are also several infectious viral diseases of African lions, including canine distemper and feline immunodeficiency.

Keywords: African wildlife; lions; tuberculosis; mycobacterium; canine distemper virus; feline immunodeficiency virus


Bengis RG, Kriek NPJ, Keet DF et al. (1996) An outbreak of bovine tuberculosis in a free‐living African buffalo (Syncerus caffer– Sparrman) population in the Kruger National Park: a preliminary report. Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research 63: 15–18.

Keet DF, Kriek NPJ, Penrith ML, Michel A and Huchzermeyer H (1996) Tuberculosis in buffaloes (Syncerus caffer) in the Kruger National Park: spread of the disease to other species. Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research 63: 239–244.

Kriek NPJ and Michel AL (2000) An overview of tuberculosis caused by Mycobacterium bovis in domestic and wild animals in South Africa. Proceedings of the 11th Symposium on Diagnosis and Control of Transboundary Infectious Diseases in Southern Africa, 1 September 2000, pp. 12–17. Utrecht, The Netherlands.

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Further Reading

Carpenter MA, Appel M, Roelke‐Parker ME et al. (1998) Genetic characterization of canine distemper virus in Serengeti carnivores. Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology 65: 259–266.

Cleaveland S, Appel MGJ, Chalmers WSK et al. (2000) Serological and demographic evidence for domestic dogs as a source of canine distemper virus infection for Serengeti wildlife. Veterinary Microbiology 72: 217–227.

Huchzermeyer HFKA, Bruckner GK, Van Heerden A et al. (1994) Tuberculosis. In: Coetzer JAW, Thompson GR and Tustin RC (eds) Infectious Diseases of Livestock, pp. 1425–1444. Capetown, South Africa: Oxford University Press.

Keet D, Kriek NPJ, Huchzermeyer H and Bengis RG (1994) Advanced tuberculosis in an African Buffalo (Syncerus caffer Sparrman). Journal of the South African Veterinary Association 65: 79–83.

Osofsky SA, Hirsch KJ, Zuckerman EE and Hardy WD Jr (1996) Feline lentivirus and feline oncovirus status of free‐ranging lions (Panthera leo), leopards (Panthera pardus), and cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) in Botswana: a regional perspective. Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 27: 453–467.

Packer C, Altizer S, Appel M et al. (1999) Viruses of the Serengeti: patterns of infection and mortality in African lions. Journal of Animal Ecology 68: 1161–1178.

Poli A, Abramo F, Cavicchio P et al. (1995) Lentivirus infection in an African lion: a clinical, pathologic and virologic study. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 31: 70–74.

Roelke‐Parker ME, Munson L, Packer C et al. (1996) A canine distemper virus epidemic in Serengeti lions (Panthera leo). Nature (London) 379: 441–445.

Spencer JA (1998) Absence of canine distemper antibodies in selected southern African non‐domestic felids. South African Journal of Wildlife Research 28: 8–9.

Spencer JA and Morkel P (1993) Serological survey of sera from lions in Etosha National Park. South African Journal of Wildlife Research 23: 60–61.

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Atlas, Ronald M, Michel, Anita L, and Nel, Louis(Jan 2003) Tuberculosis in African Wildlife and Other Infectious Diseases of African Lions. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0003371]