facebook
twitter
rss
account
search
search
 

Plague effects on wildlife inaccurate?

Feb. 24, 2010 at 5:11 PM   |   Comments

RESTON, Va., Feb. 24 (UPI) -- A U.S. Geological Survey study suggests the effects of plague on wildlife might have been underestimated in the past.

Researchers said the plague -- a flea-borne bacterial disease introduced to North America during the late 1800s -- spreads rapidly across a landscape, causing devastating effects to wildlife and posing risks to people.

The scientists said their new research demonstrates plague continues to affect the black-footed ferret -- one of the most critically endangered mammals in North America -- as well as several prairie dog species, and it does so even when not erupting in epidemic form.

"The impacts of plague on mammal populations remain unknown for all but a few species, but the impact on those species we have studied raises alarms as well as important questions about how plague might be affecting conservation efforts in general," said USGS wildlife biologist Dean Biggins, co-author of the study.

Biggins and his colleagues' research indicates plague might be maintained in the wild within colonies of prairie dogs, the primary food of black-footed ferrets, without causing the large-scale, rapid die-off of prairie dogs that is commonly observed. But the scientists say the mechanisms of the bacterium's low-level presence and survival, as well as the absence of a large-scale die-off of prairie dogs, remain under investigation.

The findings are reported in a special issue of the journal Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases.

© 2010 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Recommended UPI Stories
Most Popular
1
Audi gets permit to test self-driving cars in California Audi gets permit to test self-driving cars in California
2
Say goodbye to Chinese sturgeon Say goodbye to Chinese sturgeon
3
Apple's latest operating system rolls out Wednesday afternoon Apple's latest operating system rolls out Wednesday afternoon
4
Impact that doomed dinos enabled spread of modern forests Impact that doomed dinos enabled spread of modern forests
5
First 3D-printed car unveiled in Chicago First 3D-printed car unveiled in Chicago
Trending News
Video
x
Feedback