GPS Telemetry Reveals a Zebra With Anthrax as Putative Cause of Death for Three Cheetahs in the Namib Desert.

Frontiers in Veterinary Science
Ruben PortasBettina Wachter

Abstract

Anthrax is a bacterial disease caused by Bacillus anthracis that affects wildlife, livestock and also humans in different parts of the world. It is endemic in some parts of Africa, including Namibia, with species differing in their susceptibility to the disease. Carnivores are typically less susceptible to anthrax than herbivores. Most carnivore species survive infection and have high seroprevalence against anthrax, whereas most herbivore species have low seroprevalence and typically die quickly when infected. Several reports have shown that cheetahs, unlike most other large carnivores, are susceptible to anthrax leading to a sudden death. This finding was suggested to be linked to the low genetic variability of cheetahs which might reduce an adequate immune response and thus explain such a high susceptibility to the disease. Here, we report an incidence of three free-ranging cheetahs that died within 24 h after feeding on a mountain zebra that tested positive for anthrax in the Namib Desert. We were able to reconstruct this incidence with the data recorded in the GPS (Global Positioning System) collar worn by one of the cheetahs and retrieved in the field. It is very likely that the cheetahs died from anthrax, although Bacillu...Continue Reading

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