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Prairie dog responses to vector control and vaccination during an initial Yersinia pestis invasion

December 13, 2023

We evaluated the invasion of plague bacteria Yersinia pestis into a population of black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus; BTPDs) in South Dakota. We aimed to ascertain if Y. pestis invaded slowly or rapidly, and to determine if vector (flea) control or vaccination of BTPDs assisted in increasing survival rates. We sampled BTPDs in 2007 (before Y. pestis documentation), 2008 (year of confirmed invasion), and 2009 (after invasion). We estimated annual BTPD re-encounter rates on three 9-ha plots treated annually with deltamethrin dust for flea control and three 9-ha plots lacking dust. In 2007 and 2008, approximately half the adult BTPDs live-trapped were injected subcutaneously with either an experimental plague vaccine (F1–V fusion protein) or placebo formulation; the remaining individuals were not inoculated. From 2007 to 2009, we sampled 1559 BTPDs on 2542 occasions. During 2007–2008, the prevalence and intensity of fleas on BTPDs were 69–97% lower on the dusted vs. no dust plots. From 2007 to 2008, the annual re-encounter rate of non-inoculated BTPDs was 150% higher on the dusted vs. no dust plots. During the same interval on the dusted plots, the re-encounter rate was 55% higher for vaccinated adult female BTPDs vs. nonvaccinated adult females, but the annual re-encounter rate was 19% lower for vaccinated adult males. By late August 2008, BTPDs were nearly extirpated from the no dust plots. During 2007–2008 and 2008–2009 on the dusted plots, which persisted, the BTPD re-encounter rate was 41% higher for vaccinated vs. non-vaccinated adult females but 35% lower for vaccinated adult males. Yersinia pestis erupted with vigor as it invaded. Flea control enhanced BTPD survival but did not offer full protection. Flea control and F1–V vaccination seemed to have additive, positive effects on adult females. Annual re-encounter rates were reduced for vaccinated adult males; additional experimentation is needed to further evaluate this trend.

Publication Year 2024
Title Prairie dog responses to vector control and vaccination during an initial Yersinia pestis invasion
DOI 10.1016/j.ijppaw.2023.12.001
Authors David A. Eads, Dean E. Biggins, Shantini Ramakrishnan, Amanda R. Goldberg, Samantha L. Eads, Tonie E. Rocke
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title International Journal of Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife
Index ID 70250635
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Fort Collins Science Center; National Wildlife Health Center