Diseases of captive cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus jubatus) in south africa: a 20-year retrospective survey

L. Munson, J. W. Nesbit, D. G A Meltzer, L. P. Colly, L. Bolton, N. P J Kriek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


As part of an ongoing study to determine the basis for high prevalences of veno-occlusive disease, glomerulosclerosis, and chronic lymphoplasmacytic gastritis in cheetahs, a retrospective pathology survey of captive cheetahs in the Republic of South Africa (RSA) was conducted. The RSA population was selected because its genetic composition and captive management were similar to those of the cheetah population in U.S. zoos, in which these diseases are common. For this study, archived pathology materials at the University of Pretoria Faculty of Veterinary Sciences in Onderstepoort and the Faculty of Veterinary Science, MEDUNSA, from 69 cheetahs that died between 1975 and 1995 were reviewed, and prevalences of common lesions were compared with those in the U.S. population. Gastritis associated with Helicobacter-like organisms was the most prevalent disease, accounting for close to 40% of the mortalities, including several cheetahs <3 yr old. Glomerulosclerosis and veno-occlusive disease also were major causes of mortality in RSA cheetahs. RSA cheetahs also had adrenal cortical hyperplasia, cardiac fibrosis, lymphocytic depletion of the spleen, systemic amyloidosis, and splenic myelolipomas. The presence in the captive RSA cheetah population of the same unusual diseases that are common in U.S. cheetahs suggests a species predilection to develop these diseases in captivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)342-347
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1999


  • Acinonyx jubatus
  • Cheetah
  • Gastritis
  • Glomerulosclerosis
  • Helicobacter spp.
  • Veno-occlusive disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • veterinary(all)


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