[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The global spread of the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) has led to widespread extirpation of amphibian populations. During an intervention aimed at stabilizing at-risk populations, we treated wild-caught Cascades frogs Rana cascadae with the antifungal drug itraconazole. In fall 2012, we collected 60 recently metamorphosed R. cascadae from 1 of the 11 remnant populations in the Cascades Mountains (CA, USA). Of these, 30 randomly selected frogs were treated with itraconazole and the other 30 frogs served as experimental controls; all were released at the capture site. Bd prevalence was low at the time of treatment and did not differ between treated frogs and controls immediately following treatment. Following release, Bd prevalence gradually increased in controls but not in treated frogs, with noticeable (but still non-significant) differences 3 wk after treatment (27% [4/15] vs. 0% [0/13]) and strong differences 5 wk after treatment (67% [8/12] vs. 13% [1/8]). We did not detect any differences in Bd prevalence and load between experimental controls and untreated wild frogs during this time period. In spring 2013, we recaptured 7 treated frogs but none of the experimental control frogs, suggesting that over-winter survival was higher for treated frogs. The itraconazole treatment did appear to reduce growth rates: treated frogs weighed 22% less than control frogs 3 wk after treatment (0.7 vs. 0.9 g) and were 9% shorter than control frogs 5 wk after treatment (18.4 vs. 20.2 mm). However, for critically small populations, increased survival of the most at-risk life stage could prevent or delay extinction. Our results show that itraconazole treatment can be effective against Bd infection in wild amphibians, and therefore the beneficial effects on survivorship may outweigh the detrimental effects on growth.
Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 01/2015; 112(3):243-50. · 1.73 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) has caused declines and extinctions in amphibians worldwide, and there is increasing evidence that some strains of this pathogen are more virulent than others. While a number of putative virulence factors have been identified, few studies link these factors to specific epizootic events. We documented a dramatic decline in juvenile frogs in a Bd-infected population of Cascades frogs (Rana cascadae) in the mountains of northern California and used a laboratory experiment to show that Bd isolated in the midst of this decline induced higher mortality than Bd isolated from a more stable population of the same species of frog. This highly virulent Bd isolate was more toxic to immune cells and attained higher density in liquid culture than comparable isolates. Genomic analyses revealed that this isolate is nested within the global panzootic lineage and exhibited unusual genomic patterns, including increased copy numbers of many chromosomal segments. This study integrates data from multiple sources to suggest specific phenotypic and genomic characteristics of the pathogen that may be linked to disease-related declines.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Abstract The present study was performed to identify risk factors for canine leptospirosis at a tertiary referral institution in northern California from 2001 through 2010 and to describe case characteristics. In this retrospective case-control study, 67 dogs with leptospirosis and 271 controls were evaluated at the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (Davis, CA) from March, 2001 , through November, 2010. Medical records of cases and controls were analyzed to identify signalment, exposure history, and clinical signs that increased the risk for a diagnosis of leptospirosis. Among cases, most were vomiting and lethargic and had leukocytosis and azotemia. Total white cell count, neutrophil count, and monocyte count were higher in dogs with leptospirosis, whereas the platelet count was lower. Serum concentrations of urea nitrogen, creatinine, and bilirubin were elevated in dogs with leptospirosis as well. On average, case dogs were hospitalized for 11 days and had hospital bills exceeding $5000. Mortality was 13% of case dogs, with the predominant serovar being Pomona. Dogs with leptospirosis were more likely to reside in the central or south coast (odds ratio [OR]=7.33), Sierra Nevada foothills (OR=4.50), San Francisco Bay area (OR=4.2), and north coast (OR=2.85) of California when compared with controls. Dogs 5-10 years old (OR=3.22) or over 10 years old (OR=2.76) and herding (OR=3.1) or hound breed (OR=4.6) dogs were more likely to have leptospirosis than the control group. Leptospirosis was associated with acute renal failure in older, undervaccinated dogs. The regional distribution, large breed predisposition, and finding of predominantly Pomona serovar suggest wildlife or other contacts as an important route of exposure. Knowledge of risk factors, vaccination history, and clinical signs can increase an index of suspicion for leptospirosis and contribute to improved strategies for prevention of leptospirosis in dogs, understanding of the ecology of the disease for all species, and protection of human health.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: During 2012-2013 in California, USA, 3 wild golden eagles were found with severe skin disease; 2 died. The cause was a rare mite, most closely related to Knemidocoptes derooi mites. Cautionary monitoring of eagle populations, habitats, and diseases is warranted.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Abstract We surveyed pathogens and ectoparasites among federally endangered Amargosa voles (Microtus californicus scirpensis) and sympatric rodents in Tecopa Hot Springs, Inyo County, California, December 2011-November 2012. We aimed to assess disease and detect possible spillover from or connectivity with other hosts within and outside the Amargosa ecosystem. We assessed 71 individual voles and 38 individual sympatric rodents for current infection with seven vector-borne zoonotic pathogens and past exposure to five pathogens. Thirteen percent of Amargosa voles had evidence of infection with Toxoplasma gondii, a zoonotic protozoan that may alter host behavior or cause mortality. Additionally, we found antibodies against Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (SL) spp. in 21% of voles, against Anaplasma phagocytophilum in 2.6%, Rickettsia spp. in 13%, relapsing fever Borrelia (3.9%), and T. gondii (7.9%). Sympatric rodents also had active infections with Borrelia SL spp. (15%). Of the ectoparasites collected, the tick Ixodes minor is of particular interest because the study area is well outside of the species' reported range and because I. minor ticks infest migratory birds as well as rodents, showing a potential mechanism for pathogens to be imported from outside the Amargosa ecosystem.
Journal of wildlife diseases 08/2014; · 1.31 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We investigated the involvement of birds in the ecology of the western black-legged tick, Ixodes pacificus, and its associated zoonotic bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi and Anaplasma phagocytophilum, at two interior coast-range study sites in northern California. Anaplasma phagocytophilum, the agent of granulocytic anaplasmosis (GA), and B. burgdorferi s.s., the agent of Lyme disease (LD), are tick-borne pathogens that are well established in California. We screened blood and ticks from 349 individual birds in 48 species collected in 2011 and 2012 using pathogen-specific PCR. A total of 617 immature I. pacificus was collected with almost three times as many larvae than nymphs. There were 7.5 times more I. pacificus at the Napa County site compared to the Yolo County site. Two of 74 (3%) nymphal pools from an Oregon junco (Junco hyemalis) and a hermit thrush (Catharus guttatus) and 4 individual larvae (all from Oregon juncos) were PCR-positive for B. burgdorferi. Blood samples from a golden-crowned sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla) and a European starling (Sturnus vulgaris) were positive for A. phagocytophilum DNA at very low levels. Birds that forage on ground or bark and nest on the ground, as well as some migratory species, are at an increased risk for acquiring I. pacificus. Our findings show that birds contribute to the ecologies of LD and GA in California by serving as a blood-meal source, feeding and transporting immature I. pacificus, and sometimes as a source of Borrelia infection.
Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases 06/2014; · 2.35 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Equine infection with Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis can manifest in several forms, including external or internal abscesses. The objective of this study was to phenotype clinical isolates of C. pseudotuberculosis and to investigate the relationship between lesion location and extent of lesions in the animals from which they were collected. One hundred and seventy-one C. pseudotuberculosis biovar equi isolates were collected from horses presenting to the University of California Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital and two other sources in the period between September 1996 and December 2011. Bacterial isolates were grouped on the bases of biochemical characteristics and growth on brain heart infusion agar. Six phenotypes were identified: (1) large colonies that metabolized sucrose (n = 81); (2) large sucrose-negative colonies (n = 47); (3) medium sucrose-positive (n = 20); (4) medium sucrose-negative (n = 11); (5) small sucrose-positive (n = 7), and (6) small sucrose-negative (n = 5). Medical records corresponding to each isolate were accessed from the University's administrative computer system or from the submitting source in order to determine the anatomical site from which the isolate was collected (n = 171), as well as the extent of lesions (n = 164) in the patient. The relationship between phenotype, lesion location and extent of lesions was then investigated statistically. No significant relationship between strain and lesion location or extent of lesions was found. This suggests that phenotypic differences during in vitro culture does not account for external versus internal disease in horses. Further work to characterize strains genotypically and to identify determinants for bacterial virulence should be performed. Importantly, host and environmental factors should also be further investigated.
The Veterinary Journal 05/2014; · 2.17 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Vector and host abundance affect infection transmission rates, prevalence, and persistence in communities. Biological diversity in hosts and vectors may provide “rescue” hosts which buffer against pathogen extinction and “dilution” hosts which reduce the force of infection in communities. Anaplasma phagocytophilum is a tick-transmitted zoonotic pathogen that circulates in small mammal and tick communities characterized by varying levels of biological diversity. We examined the prevalence of A. phagocytophilum in Ixodes spp. ticks in 11 communities in northern and central California. A total of 1020 ticks of 8 species was evaluated. Five percent of ticks (5 species) were PCR-positive, with the highest prevalence (6–7%) in I. pacificus and I. ochotonae. In most species, adults had a higher prevalence than nymphs or larvae. PCR prevalence varied between 0% and 40% across sites; the infection probability in ticks increased with infestation load and prevalence in small mammals, but not tick species richness, diversity, evenness, or small mammal species richness. No particular tick species was likely to “rescue” infection in the community; rather the risk of A. phagocytophilum infection is related to exposure to particular tick species and life stages, and overall tick abundance.
Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases 04/2014; · 2.35 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Microtus californicus scirpensis is an endangered, isolated subspecies of California vole. It requires water pools and riparian bulrush (Schoenoplectus americanus) and occupies some of the rarest habitat of any North American mammal. The minimally vegetated, extremely arid desert surrounding the pools is essentially uninhabitable for Ixodes species ticks. We describe an enzootic cycle of Borrelia carolinensis in Ixodes minor ticks at a site 3500 km distant from the region in which I. minor is known to occur in Tecopa Host Springs, Inyo County, eastern Mojave Desert, California. Voles were live-trapped, and ticks and blood samples queried by PCR and DNA sequencing for identification and determination of the presence of Borrelia spp. Between 2011–2013, we found 21 Ixodes minor ticks (prevalence 4–8%) on Amargosa voles and Reithrodontomys megalotis. DNA sequencing of 16S rRNA from ticks yielded 99% identity to I. minor. There was 92% identity with I. minor in the calreticulin gene fragment. Three ticks (23.1%), 15 (24%) voles, three (27%) house mice, and one (7%) harvest mice were PCR positive for Borrelia spp. Sequencing of the 5S-23S intergenic spacer region and flagellin gene assigned Amargosa vole Borrelia strains to B. carolinensis. Ixodes minor, first described in 1902 from a single Guatemalan record, reportedly occurs only in the southeast American on small mammals and birds. The source of this tick in the Mojave Desert and time scale for introduction is not known but likely via migratory birds. Borrelia strains in the Amargosa ecosystem most closely resemble B. carolinensis. B. carolinensis occurs in a rodent-I. minor enzootic cycle in the southeast U.S. although its epidemiological significance for people or rodents is unknown. The presence of a tick and Borrelia spp. only known from southeast U.S. in this extremely isolated habitat on the other side of the continent is of serious concern because it suggests that the animals in the ecosystem could be vulnerable to further incursions of pathogens and parasites.
Ecology and Evolution 03/2014; · 1.66 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Abstract From June to October 2010, 48 endangered riparian brush rabbits (Sylvilagus bachmani riparius) were trapped at a captive propagation site in central California with the intention of release into re-established habitats. During prerelease examinations, ticks and blood samples were collected for surveillance for Rickettsia spp., Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Borrelia burgdorferi, and Bartonella spp. Ticks were identified, and DNA was extracted for PCR analysis. Serology was performed to detect exposure to Rickettsia spp., B. burgdorferi, and A. phagocytophilum. DNA was extracted from blood samples and analyzed for A. phagocytophilum using PCR assays. Rabbit blood samples were also cultured for Bartonella spp. Haemaphysalis leporispalustris ticks were detected on all rabbits except one. A total of 375 ticks were collected, with 48% of the rabbits (23 rabbits) having a burden ranging from 0 to 5 ticks, 15% (seven rabbits) from 6 to 10 ticks, 25% (12 rabbits) from 11 to 15 ticks, and 12% (six rabbits) with >15 ticks. There was no evidence of B. burgdorferi or R. rickettsii in tick or rabbit samples. There was also no evidence of Bartonella spp. in the rabbit samples. Four tick samples and 14 rabbits were weakly PCR positive for A. phagocytophilum, and six rabbits were antibody positive for A. phagocytophilum. These results suggest that there may be little risk of these tick-borne diseases in riparian brush rabbits or to the people in contact with them.
Journal of wildlife diseases 02/2014; · 1.31 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In 2009, the Wildlife Investigations Laboratory started a program to increase knowledge about diseases affecting nongame, threatened and endangered species and integrate health considerations into conservation management. First, we formed an enhanced surveillance network to detect disease. This network of universities, NGOs, researchers, and wildlife rehabilitators, has documented numerous diseases for the first time in nongame species, including; clinical chytridiomycosis in American bullfrogs, canine distemper in desert kit foxes, cancer clusters in raccoons and opossums, mite-associated skin disease in Amargosa voles, novel parasite infections in fishers, and a gray fox musculoskeletal syndrome. In-depth follow up projects are investigating wildlife poisonings at trespass marijuana grows, emerging conservation threats to endangered Amargosa voles, and ecology of mange and canine distemper. Many studies have contributed to graduate student degrees. To address disease concerns within a larger conservation management framework, we participate in multi-institutional, interdisciplinary species working groups for pikas, Amargosa voles, fishers and Sierra Nevada Red foxes. Early results demonstrate the importance of studying diseases affecting nongame wildlife species and the need to increase collaborations. A collaborative, interdisciplinary program of enhanced surveillance, research, and training which incorporates wildlife health professionals into species conservation teams has the greatest promise for improving nongame species health.
The Wildlife Society: Western Section, Reno, Nevada; 02/2014
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Notoedric mange, caused by the contagious, burrowing mite Notoedres centrifera, has been associated with several large-scale population declines of Western gray squirrels (Sciurus griseus) and has been a significant obstacle to population recovery in Washington State where the species is listed as threatened. In 2009, residents and wildlife rehabilitators in the isolated San Bernardino Mountains of southern California reported a dramatic die-off of Western gray squirrels, in what had been a previously dense and robust population. Individuals were observed suffering from abnormal neurologic behaviors (ataxia and obtundation) and severe skin disease. Full necropsy of five squirrels from the epidemic showed that all had moderate to severe infestation with mange mites and severe dermatitis characterized by hyperkeratosis, acanthosis, intralesional mites, intracorneal pustules and superficial bacteria. Mites from affected squirrels were evaluated by light and electron microscopy and identified as N. centrifera based on morphologic criteria. Additionally, the internal transcribed spacer-2 region of the mite was cloned, sequenced and accessioned in GenBank. The cause for the abnormal neurologic behavior was not confirmed on post-mortem examination. However,we hypothesize that mange can cause incoordination and obtundation as a result of malnutrition and dehydration, and intense pruritis may induce abnormal or erratic behavior that could be mistaken for neurologic signs. While we have characterized the severe impact this disease can have on individual animals, more work is needed to understand the impact on squirrel populations, particularly in view of the anecdotal reports of dramatic population declines that may take decades to recover.
International Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife. 12/2013;
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pathogen introduction by invasive species has been speculated to be a cause of declining western pond turtle Emys marmorata populations in California, USA. This study determined the prevalence of Ranavirus spp., Herpesvirus spp., Mycoplasma spp. (via polymerase chain reaction of blood and nasal flush contents), and Salmonella spp. infection (via fecal culture) in native E. marmorata and invasive red-eared sliders Trachemys scripta elegans and compared infection prevalence in E. marmorata populations sympatric with T. scripta elegans to E. marmorata populations that were not sympatric by sampling 145 E. marmorata and 33 T. scripta elegans at 10 study sites throughout California. Mycoplasma spp. were detected in both species: prevalence in E. marmorata was 7.8% in the northern, 9.8% in the central, and 23.3% in the southern California regions. In T. scripta elegans, Mycoplasma spp. were not detected in the northern California region but were detected at 4.5 and 14.3% in the central and southern regions, respectively. All turtles tested negative for Herpesvirus spp. and Ranavirus spp. Enteric bacteria but not Salmonella spp. were isolated from feces. E. marmorata populations that were sympatric with T. scripta elegans did not have increased risk of Mycoplasma spp. infection. For E. marmorata, there was a significant association between Mycoplasma spp. infection and lower body weight and being located in the southern California region. This study is the first of its kind to document pathogen prevalence in native E. marmorata habitats and those sympatric with T. scripta elegans in California.
Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 11/2013; 107(1):37-47. · 1.59 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The emerging tick-borne pathogen Anaplasma phagocytophilum infects humans, domestic animals, and wildlife throughout the Holarctic. In the western US, the ecology of A. phagocytophilum is particularly complex, with multiple pathogen strains, tick vectors, and reservoir hosts. A recent phylogenetic analysis of A. phagocytophilum strains isolated from various small mammal hosts in California documented distinct clustering of woodrat strains separate from sciurid (chipmunk and squirrel) strains. Here, we identified strains of A. phagocytophilum in various Ixodes tick species in California and related these genotypes to those found among reservoir and clinical hosts from the same areas. The sequences from all of the nidicolous (nest-dwelling) Ixodes ticks grouped within a clade that also contained all of the woodrat-origin A. phagocytophilum strains. Two of the I. pacificus sequences were also grouped within this woodrat clade, while the remaining five belonged to a less genetically diverse clade that included several sciurid-origin strains as well as a dog, a horse, and a human strain. By comparing A. phagocytophilum strains from multiple sources concurrently, we were able to gain a clearer picture of how A. phagocytophilum strains in the western US are partitioned, which hosts and vectors are most likely to be infected with a particular strain, and which tick species and reservoir hosts pose the greatest health risk to humans and domestic animals.
Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases 08/2013; · 2.35 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Abstract Notoedric mange was responsible for a population decline of bobcats (Lynx rufus) in 2 Southern California counties from 2002-2006, and is now reported to affect bobcats in Northern and Southern California. With this study, we document clinical laboratory and necropsy findings for bobcats with mange. Bobcats in this study included free-ranging bobcats with mange (n=16), a control group of free-ranging bobcats without mange (n=11), and a captive control group of bobcats without mange (n=19). We used 2 control groups to evaluate potential anomalies due to capture stress or diet. Free-ranging healthy and mange-infected bobcats were trapped or salvaged. Animals were tested by serum biochemistry, complete blood count, urine protein and creatinine, body weight, necropsy, and assessment for anticoagulant rodenticide residues in liver tissue. Bobcats with severe mange were emaciated, dehydrated and anemic with low serum creatinine, hyperphosphatemia, hypoglycemia, hypernatremia and hyperchloremia, and sometimes septicemic when compared to control groups. Liver enzymes and leukocyte counts were elevated in free-ranging, recently captured bobcats, whether or not they were infested with mange, suggesting capture stress. Bobcats with mange had lower levels of serum cholesterol, albumin, globulin, and total protein due to protein loss likely secondary to severe dermatopathy. Renal insufficiency was unlikely in most cases as urine protein creatinine ratios were within normal limits. A primary gastrointestinal loss of protein or blood is possible in a few cases, as evidenced by elevated blood urea nitrogen, anemia, intestinal parasitism, colitis, gastric hemorrhage, and melena. The prevalence of exposure to anticoagulant rodenticides was 100% (n=11) in bobcats with mange. These findings paint a picture of debilitating, multisystemic disease with infectious and toxic contributing factors that can progress to death in individuals and potential decline in populations.
Journal of Parasitology 08/2013; · 1.32 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Amphibians are experiencing global declines due in part to the infectious disease chytridiomycosis. Some symbiotic bacteria residents on frog skin have been shown to inhibit the growth of Batrachochytrium dendrobatitis (Bd) but few studies have attempted to fully describe the resident bacterial flora of frog skin. We cultured and sequenced 130 bacterial isolates from frogs collected from the California Klamath Range, recovering predominantly Gram-negative bacteria from 20 higher order taxa and 31 genera. There were also a large number of unclassifiable isolates. Forty-three isolates were assessed for their ability to inhibit the growth of Bd in vitro; of these, two had strong and three had slight anti-Bd activity. We suggest that many bacterial species may play a secondary role in Bd resistance, acting synergistically with inhibitory species. Future research is required in order to characterize these interactions. Understanding the relationships between bacterial strains may be important in predicting and managing the effects of future anti-Bd treatments such as antimicrobial compounds or probiotic bacteria.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is a fatal immune-mediated vasculitis of felids caused by a mutant form of a common feline enteric virus, feline enteric coronavirus. The virus can attack many organ systems and causes a broad range of signs, commonly including weight loss and fever. Regardless of presentation, FIP is ultimately fatal and often presents a diagnostic challenge. In May 2010, a malnourished young adult male mountain lion (Puma concolor) from Kern County, California, USA was euthanized because of concern for public safety, and a postmortem examination was performed. Gross necropsy and histopathologic examination revealed necrotizing, multifocal myocarditis; necrotizing, neutrophilic, and histiocytic myositis and vasculitis of the tunica muscularis layer of the small and large intestines; and embolic, multifocal, interstitial pneumonia. Feline coronavirus antigen was detected in both the heart and intestinal tissue by immunohistochemistry. A PCR for coronavirus performed on kidney tissue was positive, confirming a diagnosis of FIP. Although coronavirus infection has been documented in mountain lions by serology, this is the first confirmed report of FIP.
Journal of wildlife diseases 04/2013; 49(2):408-12. · 1.31 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objective-To conduct an epidemiological analysis of the spatial and temporal distribution of canine leptospirosis cases in northern California and detect spatial clustering in any region. Design-Retrospective case-control study. Animals-67 dogs with leptospirosis and 271 control dogs. Procedures-Medical records of case and control dogs were reviewed. Spatial coordinates of home addresses of the study population were analyzed visually and statistically via a Cuzick-Edwards test and spatial, temporal, and space-time permutation scan statistics. Results-Cases were distributed around the San Francisco Bay region as well as in the Sierra Nevada foothills near Sacramento, Calif, whereas controls were principally distributed along route I-80 between San Francisco and Sacramento, Calif. Clustering was found for the second through sixth nearest neighboring cases via the global spatial cluster test. A local spatial cluster of 30 cases was identified in San Francisco (95% confidence interval, 1.3 to 7.0), and a temporal cluster of 18 cases was identified from May 2003 through May 2004 (95% confidence interval, 1.4 to 6.5). No significant space-time cluster was identified. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance-The use of geographic information systems provided a visual representation of the results of statistical analysis for the location and time at which leptospirosis cases occurred. This useful tool can be used to educate veterinary practitioners and the public about a potentially fatal zoonotic disease and direct vaccination strategies to help prevent disease occurrence.
Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 04/2013; 242(7):941-7. · 1.67 Impact Factor