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Prevalence of Yersinia pestis in rodents and fleas associated with black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) at Thunder Basin National Grassland, Wyoming

Journal of Wildlife Diseases

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Abstract

Rodents (and their fleas) that are associated with prairie dogs are considered important for the maintenance and transmission of the bacterium (Yersinia pestis) that causes plague. Our goal was to identify rodent and flea species that were potentially involved in a plague epizootic in black-tailed prairie dogs at Thunder Basin National Grassland. We collected blood samples and ectoparasites from rodents trapped at off- and on-colony grids at Thunder Basin National Grassland between 2002 and 2004. Blood samples were tested for antibodies to Y. pestis F-1 antigen by a passive hemagglutination assay, and fleas were tested by a multiplex polymerase chain reaction, for the presence of the plague bacterium. Only one of 1,421 fleas, an Oropsylla hirsuta collected in 2002 from a deer mouse, Peromyscus maniculatus, tested positive for Y. pestis. Blood samples collected in summer 2004 from two northern grasshopper mice, Onychomys leucogaster, tested positive for Y. pestis antibodies. All three positive samples were collected from on-colony grids shortly after a plague epizootic occurred. This study confirms that plague is difficult to detect in rodents and fleas associated with prairie dog colonies, unless samples are collected immediately after a prairie dog die-off. ?? Wildlife Disease Association 2008.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Prevalence of Yersinia pestis in rodents and fleas associated with black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) at Thunder Basin National Grassland, Wyoming
Series title:
Journal of Wildlife Diseases
Volume
44
Issue:
3
Year Published:
2008
Language:
English
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Journal of Wildlife Diseases
First page:
731
Last page:
736
Number of Pages:
6