Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Factors influencing uptake of sylvatic plague vaccine baits by prairie dogs

November 28, 2017

Sylvatic plague vaccine (SPV) is a virally vectored bait-delivered vaccine expressing Yersinia pestis antigens that can protect prairie dogs (Cynomys spp.) from plague and has potential utility as a management tool. In a large-scale 3-year field trial, SPV-laden baits containing the biomarker rhodamine B (used to determine bait consumption) were distributed annually at a rate of approximately 100–125 baits/hectare along transects at 58 plots encompassing the geographic ranges of four species of prairie dogs. We assessed site- and individual-level factors related to bait uptake in prairie dogs to determine which were associated with bait uptake rates. Overall bait uptake for 7820 prairie dogs sampled was 70% (95% C.I. 69.9–72.0). Factors influencing bait uptake rates by prairie dogs varied by species, however, in general, heavier animals had greater bait uptake rates. Vegetation quality and day of baiting influenced this relationship for black-tailed, Gunnison’s, and Utah prairie dogs. For these species, baiting later in the season, when normalized difference vegetation indices (a measure of green vegetation density) are lower, improves bait uptake by smaller animals. Consideration of these factors can aid in the development of species-specific SPV baiting strategies that maximize bait uptake and subsequent immunization of prairie dogs against plague.

Publication Year 2017
Title Factors influencing uptake of sylvatic plague vaccine baits by prairie dogs
DOI 10.1007/s10393-017-1294-1
Authors Rachel C. Abbott, Robin E. Russell, Katherine Richgels, Daniel W. Tripp, Marc R. Matchett, Dean E. Biggins, Tonie E. Rocke
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title EcoHealth
Index ID 70194372
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization National Wildlife Health Center