To determine if lesser snow geese (Chen caerulescens caerulescens) are a potential reservoir for the Pasteurella multocida bacterium that causes avian cholera, serum samples and/or pharyngeal swabs were collected from > 3,400 adult geese breeding on Wrangel Island (Russia) and Banks Island (Canada) during 1993-1996. Pharyngeal swab sampling rarely (> 0.1%) detected birds that were exposed to P. multocida in these populations. Geese with serum antibody levels indicating recent infection with P. multocida were found at both breeding colonies. Prevalence of seropositive birds was 3.5% at Wrangel Island, an area that has no recorded history of avian cholera epizootics. Prevalence of seropositive birds was 2.8% at Banks Island in 1994, but increased to 8.2% during 1995 and 1996 when an estimated 40,000-60,000 snow geese were infected. Approximately 50% of the infected birds died during the epizootic and a portion of the surviving birds may have become carriers of the disease. This pattern of prevalence indicated that enzootic levels of infection with P. multocida occurred at both breeding colonies. When no avian cholera epizootics occurred (Wrangel Island, Banks Island in 1994), female snow geese (4.7%) had higher antibody prevalence than males (2.0%).
Additional Publication Details
Antibodies against Pasteurella multocida in snow geese in the western arctic