Interspecific comparisons of sylvatic plague in prairie dogs

Journal of Mammalogy
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Abstract

Of the 3 major factors (habitat loss, poisoning, and disease) that limit abundance of prairie dogs today, sylvatic plague caused by Yersinia pestis is the 1 factor that is beyond human control. Plague epizootics frequently kill >99% of prairie dogs in infected colonies. Although epizootics of sylvatic plague occur throughout most of the range of prairie dogs in the United States and are well described, long-term maintenance of plague in enzootic rodent species is not well documented or understood. We review dynamics of plague in white-tailed (Cynomys leucurus), Gunnison's (C. gunnisoni), and black-tailed (C. ludovicianus) prairie dogs, and their rodent and flea associates. We use epidemiologic concepts to support an enzootic hypothesis in which the disease is maintained in a dynamic state, which requires transmission of Y. pestis to be slower than recruitment of new susceptible mammal hosts. Major effects of plague are to reduce colony size of black-tailed prairie dogs and increase intercolony distances within colony complexes. In the presence of plague, black-tailed prairie dogs will probably survive in complexes of small colonies that are usually >3 km from their nearest neighbor colonies.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Interspecific comparisons of sylvatic plague in prairie dogs
Series title Journal of Mammalogy
DOI 10.1644/1545-1542(2001)082<0894:ICOSPI>2.0.CO;2
Volume 82
Issue 4
Year Published 2001
Language English
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Journal of Mammalogy
First page 894
Last page 905