Scientists counter brucellosis threat to livestock and wildlife

Jul 15, 2010

Armed with dart guns and medical pellets, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists are vaccinating bison in and around Yellowstone National Park against brucellosis.

Researchers from the ARS National Center (NADC) in Ames, Iowa, are using a vaccine known as RB51. By vaccinating the wild bison, scientists hope to prevent the disease from spreading to nearby livestock. Currently, no cattle herds in the U.S. are known to be infected, although some near Yellowstone have been sickened in the last decade.

Brucellosis, an incurable disease, can cause abortions in cattle, bison, elk, and feral swine. It can be transmitted to humans through contact with infected animals or consumption of unpasteurized dairy products. In humans, it's called undulant fever, and causes severe flu-like symptoms.

Wildlife reservoirs of brucellosis in the United States include bison and elk (which carry Brucella abortus) and feral swine (which carry B. suis). The animals often come in contact with cattle, especially in winter when bison, elk, domestic livestock and swine are all foraging for the same food. B. suis can be transferred to farm animals or people.

Steven Olsen, a veterinary medical officer at NADC, has led the team on the bison vaccination study. During the project, researchers monitored animals to determine the natural course of B. abortus in female bison and their offspring. They found that in , the disease mimics the characteristics seen in cattle.

Brucellosis has been nearly eradicated in the United States, mostly through cooperative federal and state programs dating back to the 1950s. But its continuing spread through wildlife in the Yellowstone area has rekindled concern among cattle producers. Currently, there is no eradication program for B. suis, according to Olsen.

Among the concerns of Olsen and his colleagues--microbiologists Fred Tatum and Betsy Bricker--is the difficulty in diferentiating between B. abortus and B. suis. This presents difficulties for federal officials because a national brucellosis eradication program only targets B. abortus.

In addition to the vaccination program carried out by ARS and other agencies, the National Park Service is conducting an environmental impact study on a proposal to spend $9 million for a new brucellosis eradication program in Yellowstone over the next 30 years.

Explore further: Stanford researchers rethink 'natural' habitat for wildlife

More information: The results of this study have been published in the journal Vaccine.

Provided by United States Department of Agriculture

4 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Turner bid for Yellowstone bison draws protest

Jan 08, 2010

(AP) -- Ted Turner's bid to get 74 wild bison from Yellowstone National Park is drawing stiff opposition from those who say the animals are being given up for private profit instead of conservation.

Ted Turner gets OK for Yellowstone bison on ranch

Dec 03, 2009

(AP) -- The head of Montana's wildlife agency has given preliminary approval to a plan calling for 74 bison from Yellowstone National Park to go to billionaire Ted Turner's private ranch.

European bison return to Spain: reports

Jun 06, 2010

The nearly extinct European bison has been reintroduced after centuries in Spain with seven animals coming from a rare herd in Poland, Spanish media reported Saturday.

Recommended for you

Plants with dormant seeds give rise to more species

Apr 18, 2014

Seeds that sprout as soon as they're planted may be good news for a garden. But wild plants need to be more careful. In the wild, a plant whose seeds sprouted at the first warm spell or rainy day would risk disaster. More ...

Scientists tether lionfish to Cayman reefs

Apr 18, 2014

Research done by U.S. scientists in the Cayman Islands suggests that native predators can be trained to gobble up invasive lionfish that colonize regional reefs and voraciously prey on juvenile marine creatures.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...