The Oregon Zoo's iconic elephant Packy has tested positive for active tuberculosis.
Packy was initially diagnosed with TB in December 2013. A routine trunk-wash culture for the geriatric pachyderm came back positive this week.
It was the first positive culture since the initial diagnosis.
Oregon Zoo veterinarians said the 54-year-old elephant is in good health otherwise, but admitted they will reassess Packy's current regimen, as it is not treating the infection.
The zoo has successfully treated TB in two other elephants, Rama and Tusko. Packy's treatment has been more challenging due to his age, unpredictable musth cycles and because Packy has proved less tolerant to one of the medications, according to zoo keepers.
After receiving the latest culture results, Dr. Tim Storms, the zoo’s lead veterinarian, informed public health authorities, who confirmed that the zoo’s current safety protocols are effective and should remain in place.
“We’ve continued to work closely with the zoo,” said Dr. Jennifer Vines, deputy health officer for Multnomah County. “They’ve been very careful about making sure visitors, volunteers and staff are safe.”
The zoo has also exercised an abundance of caution to ensure the health of its other elephants, Storms said. A year of steady treatment is required before Packy can share the same space with other elephants or come within 100 feet of the public.
That means zoo visitors have only been able to catch glimpses of Packy in person.
Packy has ventured out into Elephant Lands, however, exploring the south habitat for the first time in July and taking his first dip in the swimming pool Monday.
Zoo keepers said hit positive TB test will have little impact on Packy's day-to-day life.
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