Hazel elephant redux (letter)

Submitted by Naturenomics Team on Wed, 30/11/2016 - 04:46

Full text.  A recent letter from Greenberg, Jung and Gutter reported the untimely death of Hazel Elephant with Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection.  The authors concluded that the animal trainer, who was found to have cavitary tuberculosis, was probably the source of infection.  The conclusion was based on data available at the time.  The isolates from Hazel Elephant and the animal trainer were submitted to us for further study the state health departments of Louisiana and Florida.  Using the methodology and classification scheme previously described, we found that the cultures were of different phage types.  The isolate from the elephant was type A0 (7), and the isolate from the trainer was type A1 (7,13,14).  The isolates differed by lysis with one major phage (MTPH 5) and two auxiliary phages (MTPH 13 and 14). We have previously used phage typing of M. tuberculosis in several well-defined outbreaks as an adjunct to other epidemiologic procedures.  The isolates were typed without the laboratory's knowing epidemiologic relationships between cases.  The results indicated that M. tuberculosis transmitted from one individual to another retained the same phage-type characteristics.  In the present study, our phage-type results suggest that the animal trainer and the elephant were infected from two different sources and that occurrence of disease in the animal and the trainer was coincidental.  We are still evaluating page typing as a procedure for use in tuberculosis epidemiology and can accept selected cultures for phage typing in special situations if we are contacted before the cultures are submitted.


Jones, W.D., Jr., Good, R.C., 1982


 Am. Rev. Respir. Dis. 125,270.

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