Serologic surveillance of anthrax in the Serengeti ecosystem, Tanzania, 1996-2009

Tiziana Lembo, Katie Hampson, Harriet Auty, Cari A. Beesley, Paul Bessell, Craig Packer, Jo Halliday, Robert Fyumagwa, Richard Hoare, Eblate Ernest, Christine Mentzel, Titus Mlengeya, Karen Stamey, Patricia P. Wilkins, Sarah Cleaveland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations

Abstract

Bacillus anthracis, the bacterium that causes anthrax, is responsible for varying death rates among animal species. Diffi culties in case detection, hazardous or inaccessible carcasses, and misdiagnosis hinder surveillance. Using case reports and a new serologic assay that enables multispecies comparisons, we examined exposure to and illness caused by B. anthracis in different species in the Serengeti ecosystem in Tanzania during 1996-2009 and the utility of serosurveillance. High seroprevalence among carnivores suggested regular nonfatal exposure. Seropositive wildebeest and buffalo showed that infection was not invariably fatal among herbivores, whereas absence of seropositivity in zebras and frequent detection of fatal cases indicated high susceptibility. Exposure patterns in dogs refl ected known patterns of endemicity and provided new information about anthrax in the ecosystem, which indicated the potential of dogs as indicator species. Serosurveillance is a valuable tool for monitoring and detecting anthrax and may shed light on mechanisms responsible for species-specifi c variability in exposure, susceptibility, and mortality rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)387-394
Number of pages8
JournalEmerging infectious diseases
Volume17
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2011

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