Brucellosis in wolves
by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
March 18, 2010
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery 2009 Interagency Annual Report includes information about brucellosis testing in wolves in Wyoming.
According to the report:
"Blood taken from 35 wolves captured in WY during 2009 were tested for Brucella canis and all samples tested negative. Nineteen wolves were tested for Brucella abortus, 89% (n=17) of the samples tested negative and 11% (n=2) tested positive.
"A positive serology titer for Brucella abortus in a wolf means that the wolf has been infected with the bacteria sometime in the past (probably in the last 12 months) and developed an immune response reflected in the antibodies measured by the diagnostic tests. A positive test does not mean that the wolf is currently infected with living bacteria, although it can be.
"How a wolf becomes infected by Brucella abortus is speculative. Possible ways of becoming infected include:
1) consumption of a fetus aborted by an infected elk or bison;
2) consumption of an adult, pregnant, infected elk or bison (particularly consumption of the reproductive tract);
3) consumption of an adult, infected, but not pregnant elk or bison (unlikely source); or 4) contact with the environmental site of an aborted fetus (also unlikely).
"Wolves can become infected with Brucella abortus and transiently shed the bacteria in the feces, although the amount of shed bacteria is thought to be insufficient to infect cattle, elk, or bison."