Oregon Zoo says no risk to public after CDC report about elephan - KPTV - FOX 12

Oregon Zoo says no risk to public after CDC report about elephants with tuberculosis

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Rama, file image Rama, file image
Packy, file image Packy, file image
Tusko, file image Tusko, file image

The Centers for Disease Control issued a report Friday about exposure to tuberculosis at the Oregon Zoo.

The report found some employees who had close contact with three bull elephants were exposed to a latent form of the disease.

Zoo workers stressed Friday that there is no risk to the public.

Packy, Rama and Tusko tested positive for tuberculosis during a routine screening in 2013.

"Elephants and other animals, they get sick. We could have a family member with TB but we would take the same precautions. You try to prevent shared air, you put on masks, you care for them the exact same way," said Bob Lee, senior elephant keeper at the Oregon Zoo.

The CDC report found that out of the six employees who tested positive for exposure, none had an active form of the disease, meaning they didn't show any symptoms.

In October 2013, however, one zoo volunteer did develop a non-contagious form of tuberculosis.

Public health officials believe the patient might have been infected when an elephant shot water out of its trunk. 

Rama, the 31-year-old son of Packy, was euthanized in March 2015 due to a leg injury that occurred 25 years earlier. Tusko was also put down in December 2015 at the age of 45 due to a decades-old leg injury, according to zookeepers.

Zoo officials said tuberculosis was not a factor in the conditions that led to their deaths.

Packy continues to receive treatment and zoo workers said it continues to go well for the Oregon Zoo's elephant elder statesman.  

Since the elephants were diagnosed, zookeepers said additional precautionary measures have been put in place. The elephants are also tested more frequently.

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