Sarah N. Bevins https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4999-6836
Susan A. Shriner https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0349-7182
Date of this Version
VECTOR-BORNE AND ZOONOTIC DISEASES Volume 21, Number 9, 2021
Plague is caused by a bacterial pathogen (Yersinia pestis) that can infect a wide range of mammal species, but its presence in wildlife is often underappreciated. Using a large-scale data set (n = 44,857) that details the extent of Y. pestis exposure in wildlife, we document exposure in 18 wildlife species, including coyotes (Canis latrans), bobcats (Lynx rufus), and black bears (Ursus americanus). Evidence of plague activity is widespread, with seropositive animals detected in every western state in the contiguous United States. Pathogen monitoring systems in wildlife that are both large scale and long-term are rare, yet they open the door for analyses on potential shifts in distribution that have occurred over time because of climate or land use changes. The data generated by these long-term monitoring programs, combined with recent advances in our understanding of pathogen ecology, offer a clearer picture of zoonotic pathogens and the risks they pose.
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