An occupational hazard? Vet contracts TB from a wildebeest

Vet Jonathan Cranston with wildebeest that may have infected him with zoonotic TB.

Story highlights

  • Jonathan Cranston suspects he caught TB from a wildebeest in South Africa
  • Global health experts are drawing attention to the animal form of the disease

(CNN)Late one night in April 2013, UK veterinarian Jonathan Cranston woke in agony. There was a sharp pain shooting through his chest.

"I felt like I'd been stabbed," he said. The pain soon passed, however, and he went back to sleep. "I didn't think much of it."
    But that would not be the end of his ordeal.
    In the weeks that followed, the stabbing pain didn't return, but it was replaced with night sweats, shortness of breath, coughing and weight loss. "I started deteriorating quite quickly," he said.
    He was soon diagnosed with pneumonia and promptly given antibiotics. But the drugs didn't work -- and his long road to a true diagnosis began.

    An animal source

    A few months earlier, Cranston had been working with a private veterinary organization in the town of Nelspruit, located in the province of Mpumalanga, South Africa. He declined to give the name of the group.
    Cranston had worked with the organization for a few weeks each year, part of a team passionate about improving the health of the rhinoceros and other wild animals in that region.