Wildlife species which have been translocated between temperate and tropical regions of the world provide unique opportunities to understand how disease processes may be affected by environmental conditions. European mouflon sheep (Ovis gmelini musimon) from the Mediterranean Islands were introduced to the Hawaiian Islands for sport hunting beginning in 1954 and were subsequently hybridized with feral domestic sheep (O. aries), which had been introduced in 1793. Three isolated mouflon populations have become established in the Hawaiian Islands but diseases in these populations have been little studied. The objective of this study was to evaluate and compare gross and histologic lesions in respiratory, renal, and hepatic systems of free-ranging sheep in two isolated volcanic environments on Hawai‘i Island. Tissue and fecal samples were collected in conjunction with population reductions during February 2011. We found gross or histologic evidence of lungworm infection in 44/49 sheep from Mauna Loa which were exposed to gaseous emissions from Kīlauea Volcano. In contrast, only 7/50
sheep from Mauna Kea had lesions consistent with lungworm, but Mauna Kea sheep had significantly more upper respiratory tract inflammation and hyperplasia consistent with chronic antigenic stimulation, possibly associated with exposure to fine airborne particulates during extended drought conditions. We hypothesize that gasses from Kīlauea Volcano contributed to severity of respiratory disease principally associated with chronic lungworm infections at Mauna Loa; however, there were numerous other potentially confounding environmental factors and interactions that merit further investigation.
Additional publication details
Environmental conditions associated with lesions in introduced free-ranging sheep in Hawai‘i