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Kat Moratalla

BIOL 1615 M.Jama

April 14, 2016
Article Summary
Brucellosis In Elk Of Eastern Idaho
Brucellosis is a bacterial disease that typically affects cattle and buffalo, it is also
found to give humans fevers that rise then fall. This disease occurs in elk and bison in the
Greater Yellow Stone Area, which includes portions of Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana.
Brucella abortus is a gram-negative bacterium that is found in cattle populations, it also
causes premature abortion of a cattles fetus. Brucellosis in elk leads to the possibility
that humans may obtain the disease through cattle that come in contact with elk, by
touching feces or by eating the meat of the cattle. Scientists decided to start researching
brucellosis in cattle because from 1998 to 2002, serologic (diagnostic identification of
antibodies in serum and bodily fluids) surveillance conducted in northeastern and
southeastern Idaho showed antibody commonness ranged from 12% to 80%. Typically,
the brucellosis antibody would only be present between 2% and 3% of cattle. These
findings confirm the presence of brucellosis in elk and provide information on disease
management options.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) began collecting data on the
previous health statuses of elk from the years before. Researchers at IDFG applied the
scientific method by capturing and sampling elk from four winter feeding sites using
corral traps and chemical immobilization. Then, blood was collected by the jugular and
allowed to clot before being centrifuged. Serum samples were also obtained and frozen
until analysis. Researchers hypothesized that cattle obtained the brucellosis from artificial

feeding sites that elk also frequented. Trapping sites were concentrated on four sites in
northeastern Idaho: Rainey Creek, Victor, Teepee Creek, and Conant Creek. Rainey
Creek is public US forestland that is even used by IDFG while the Victor, Teepee Creek,
and Conant Creek are located on private property. Elk that tested positive from the trap
sites were sent to the University of Idahos Caine Veterinary Teaching Center in Caldwell,
Idaho (CVTC), or the Idaho Department of Fish and Game Wildlife Health Laboratory in
Caldwell, Idaho (WHL). Ones sent to CVTC were euthanized by bolt pistol or
exsanguination after induction of anesthesia. Those sent to WHL were allowed to have
their calves and interact with the calves 24-72 hours prior to euthanasia. As a comparison
group to determine if the prevalence of brucellosis in elk is not directly associated with
artificial winter-feeding sites, blood-sampling kits were sent out to elk hunters. Although,
the return rate of the sampling kits were less than 20% of the total number of kits sent to
hunters. Of the 923 (from 1998-2002) usable samples received, only 20 samples tested
positive for brucellosis. Results were presented in tables with sites, years, and positive or
negative results clearly displayed.
In Idaho, the prevalence of antibodies to brucellosis in elk at sites where winterfeeding occurs (Rainey Creek, Teepee Creek, and Conant Creek) is two to four times
higher than in elk that are not fed in the winter. Data strongly suggested that supplemental
winter-feeding of elk where brucellosis is known to occur, enhances transmission because
of the artificial concentrations of elk in these situations. Ending the winter-feeding of elk
in the Greater Yellowstone Area would be a beneficial disease management action.
Reduction of elk population is also a disease management action because decreasing the
number of elk in the winter-feeding sites would decrease the transmission. Long-term

management of brucellosis-infected elk will be site specific. In conclusion, the

importance of the research the IDFG completed can prevent the possible spread of
brucellosis to humans.
Etter, R. P., & Drew, M. L. (2006). Brucellosis In Elk of Eastern Idaho. Journal of
Wildlife Diseases, 42(2), 271-278. Retrieved February 16, 2016.