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Title: Blood on Filter Paper for Monitoring Caribou Health: Efficacy, Community-Based Collection, and Disease Ecology in Circumpolar Herds
Author: Curry, Patricia Sale
Advisor: Kutz, Susan
Keywords: Veterinary Science
Issue Date: 3-Oct-2012
Abstract: Various pathogens of caribou and reindeer (Rangifer tarandus ssp.) have been detected and isolated. Some are important from a human food-safety perspective, but relatively little is known about the health impacts of these agents in Rangifer. This project sought to contribute to the serological detection and understanding of caribou pathogens by examining blood collection on filter paper (FP) as a tool for health monitoring. Filter-paper test performance was evaluated by comparing FP results to matched serum as the relative standard. This was done in nine serological assays (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays and virus neutralization) for eight pathogens/groups: Brucella spp., Neospora caninum, West Nile virus (WNV), bovine herpesvirus-1 (BHV-1), parainfluenza virus type 3 (PI-3), bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV), and bovine viral diarrhea virus types I and II. Filter-paper performance in these tests was also assessed under different storage and processing conditions. Performance was comparable to serum (FP sensitivity and specificity ≥80%) within 2 months of collection and, in most assays, after 1 year. Trials demonstrated that FP samples frozen directly upon collection performed comparably to matched serum, and that FP samples failed in the fluorescence polarization assay for Brucella. A serosurvey conducted on 550 animals from seven migratory caribou herds of arctic North America and Greenland revealed relatively high overall seroprevalence for Pestivirus (28%), BHV-1 (25%), and PI-3 (7%), and lower-than-expected prevalence for Brucella and Toxoplasma gondii. No animals tested positive for WNV or BRSV. In the two Greenland herds, only two animals were positive for one pathogen (BHV-1). Filter-paper blood sampling was implemented in hunter-based wildlife health-monitoring programs in arctic communities of Canada. Interviews with harvesters revealed strong interest in wildlife disease, moderate interest in hunter sampling, and hunter acceptance of the FP method. Findings also identified potential cultural barriers to hunter sampling of wildlife, and challenges regarding program impact and sustainability. This research validates a diagnostic field tool for multiple serological assays in Rangifer, and adds new knowledge about pathogen exposure in caribou, and about community engagement in research. It is relevant to other wildlife species, other hunter-based monitoring programs, and other community-based initiatives in the North and potentially worldwide.
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