Sentinel coyote pathogen survey to assess declining black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes) population in South Dakota, USA

Journal of Wildlife Diseases
By: , and 

Links

Abstract

As part of the national recovery effort, endangered black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes) were reintroduced to the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, USA in 2000. Despite an encouraging start, numbers of ferrets at the site have declined. In an effort to determine possible causes of the population decline, we undertook a pathogen survey in 2012 to detect exposure to West Nile virus (WNV), canine distemper virus (CDV), plague (Yersinia pestis), tularemia (Francisella tularensis), and heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) using coyotes (Canis latrans) as a sentinel animal. The highest seroprevalence was for WNV with 71% (20/28) of coyotes testing antibody-positive. Seroprevalence of CDV and plague were lower, 27% and 13%, respectively. No evidence of active infection with tularemia or heartworm was seen in the coyotes sampled. As this study did not sample black-footed ferrets themselves, the definitive cause for the decline of this population cannot be determined. However, the presence of coyotes seropositive for two diseases, plague and CDV, lethal to black-footed ferrets, indicated the potential for exposure and infection. The high seroprevalence of WNV in the coyotes indicated a wide exposure to the virus; therefore, exposure of black-footed ferrets to the virus is also likely. Due to the ability of WNV to cause fatal disease in other species, studies may be useful to elucidate the impact that WNV could have on the success of reintroduced black-footed ferrets as well as factors influencing the spread and incidence of the disease in a prairie ecosystem.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Sentinel coyote pathogen survey to assess declining black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes) population in South Dakota, USA
Series title Journal of Wildlife Diseases
DOI 10.7589/JWD-D-20-00015
Volume 57
Issue 2
Year Published 2021
Language English
Publisher Allen Press
Contributing office(s) National Wildlife Health Center
Description 9 p.
First page 264
Last page 272
Country United States
State South Dakota
Other Geospatial Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details