Causes of pneumonia epizootics among bighorn sheep, Western United States, 2008-2010.
ABSTRACT: Epizootic pneumonia of bighorn sheep is a devastating disease of uncertain etiology. To help clarify the etiology, we used culture and culture-independent methods to compare the prevalence of the bacterial respiratory pathogens Mannheimia haemolytica, Bibersteinia trehalosi, Pasteurella multocida, and Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae in lung tissue from 44 bighorn sheep from herds affected by 8 outbreaks in the western United States. M. ovipneumoniae, the only agent detected at significantly higher prevalence in animals from outbreaks (95%) than in animals from unaffected healthy populations (0%), was the most consistently detected agent and the only agent that exhibited single strain types within each outbreak. The other respiratory pathogens were frequently but inconsistently detected, as were several obligate anaerobic bacterial species, all of which might represent secondary or opportunistic infections that could contribute to disease severity. These data provide evidence that M. ovipneumoniae plays a primary role in the etiology of epizootic pneumonia of bighorn sheep.
Project description:Bronchopneumonia is a population limiting disease of bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis). The cause of this disease has been a subject of debate. Leukotoxin expressing Mannheimia haemolytica and Bibersteinia trehalosi produce acute pneumonia after experimental challenge but are infrequently isolated from animals in natural outbreaks. Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae, epidemiologically implicated in naturally occurring outbreaks, has received little experimental evaluation as a primary agent of bighorn sheep pneumonia.In two experiments, bighorn sheep housed in multiple pens 7.6 to 12 m apart were exposed to M. ovipneumoniae by introduction of a single infected or challenged animal to a single pen. Respiratory disease was monitored by observation of clinical signs and confirmed by necropsy. Bacterial involvement in the pneumonic lungs was evaluated by conventional aerobic bacteriology and by culture-independent methods. In both experiments the challenge strain of M. ovipneumoniae was transmitted to all animals both within and between pens and all infected bighorn sheep developed bronchopneumonia. In six bighorn sheep in which the disease was allowed to run its course, three died with bronchopneumonia 34, 65, and 109 days after M. ovipneumoniae introduction. Diverse bacterial populations, predominantly including multiple obligate anaerobic species, were present in pneumonic lung tissues at necropsy.Exposure to a single M. ovipneumoniae infected animal resulted in transmission of infection to all bighorn sheep both within the pen and in adjacent pens, and all infected sheep developed bronchopneumonia. The epidemiologic, pathologic and microbiologic findings in these experimental animals resembled those seen in naturally occurring pneumonia outbreaks in free ranging bighorn sheep.
Project description:Respiratory disease has been a persistent problem for the recovery of bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis), but has uncertain etiology. The disease has been attributed to several bacterial pathogens including Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae and Pasteurellaceae pathogens belonging to the Mannheimia, Bibersteinia, and Pasteurella genera. We estimated detection probability for these pathogens using protocols with diagnostic tests offered by a fee-for-service laboratory and not offered by a fee-for-service laboratory. We conducted 2861 diagnostic tests on swab samples collected from 476 bighorn sheep captured across Montana and Wyoming to gain inferences regarding detection probability, pathogen prevalence, and the power of different sampling methodologies to detect pathogens in bighorn sheep populations. Estimated detection probability using fee-for-service protocols was less than 0.50 for all Pasteurellaceae and 0.73 for Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae. Non-fee-for-service Pasteurellaceae protocols had higher detection probabilities, but no single protocol increased detection probability of all Pasteurellaceae pathogens to greater than 0.50. At least one protocol resulted in an estimated detection probability of 0.80 for each pathogen except Mannheimia haemolytica, for which the highest detection probability was 0.45. In general, the power to detect Pasteurellaceae pathogens at low prevalence in populations was low unless many animals were sampled or replicate samples were collected per animal. Imperfect detection also resulted in low precision when estimating prevalence for any pathogen. Low and variable detection probabilities for respiratory pathogens using live-sampling protocols may lead to inaccurate conclusions regarding pathogen community dynamics and causes of bighorn sheep respiratory disease epizootics. We recommend that agencies collect multiples samples per animal for Pasteurellaceae detection, and one sample for Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae detection from at least 30 individuals to reliably detect both Pasteurellaceae and Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae at the population-level. Availability of PCR diagnostic tests to wildlife management agencies would improve the ability to reliably detect Pasteurellaceae in bighorn sheep populations.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Bronchopneumonia is a population limiting disease of bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) that has been associated with contact with domestic Caprinae. The disease is polymicrobial but is initiated by Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae, which is commonly carried by both domestic sheep (O. aries) and goats (Capra aegagrus hircus). However, while previous bighorn sheep comingling studies with domestic sheep have resulted in nearly 100% pneumonia mortality, only sporadic occurrence of fatal pneumonia was reported from previous comingling studies with domestic goats. Here, we evaluated the ability of domestic goats of defined M. ovipneumoniae carriage status to induce pneumonia in comingled bighorn sheep.<h4>Methodology/principal findings</h4>In experiment 1, three bighorn sheep naïve to M. ovipneumoniae developed non-fatal respiratory disease (coughing, nasal discharge) following comingling with three naturally M. ovipneumoniae-colonized domestic goats. Gross and histological lesions of pneumonia, limited to small areas on the ventral and lateral edges of the anterior and middle lung lobes, were observed at necropsies conducted at the end of the experiment. A control group of three bighorn sheep from the same source housed in isolation during experiment 1 remained free of observed respiratory disease. In experiment 2, three bighorn sheep remained free of observed respiratory disease while comingled with three M. ovipneumoniae-free domestic goats. In experiment 3, introduction of a domestic goat-origin strain of M. ovipneumoniae to the same comingled goats and bighorn sheep used in experiment 2 resulted in clinical signs of respiratory disease (coughing, nasal discharge) in both host species. At the end of experiment 3, gross and histological evidence of pneumonia similar to that observed in experiment 1 bighorn sheep was observed in both affected bighorn sheep and domestic goats.<h4>Conclusions/significance</h4>M. ovipneumoniae strains carried by domestic goats were transmitted to comingled bighorn sheep, triggering development of pneumonia. However, the severity of the disease was markedly milder than that seen in similar experiments with domestic sheep strains of the bacterium.
Project description:Respiratory disease caused by Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae and Pasteurellaceae poses a formidable challenge for bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) conservation. All-age epizootics can cause 10-90% mortality and are typically followed by multiple years of enzootic disease in lambs that hinders post-epizootic recovery of populations. The relative frequencies at which these epizootics are caused by the introduction of novel pathogens or expression of historic pathogens that have become resident in the populations is unknown. Our primary objectives were to determine how commonly the pathogens associated with respiratory disease are hosted by bighorn sheep populations and assess demographic characteristics of populations with respect to the presence of different pathogens. We sampled 22 bighorn sheep populations across Montana and Wyoming, USA for Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae and Pasteurellaceae and used data from management agencies to characterize the disease history and demographics of these populations. We tested for associations between lamb:ewe ratios and the presence of different respiratory pathogen species. All study populations hosted Pasteurellaceae and 17 (77%) hosted Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae. Average lamb:ewe ratios for individual populations where both Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae and Pasteurellaceae were detected ranged from 0.14 to 0.40. However, average lamb:ewe ratios were higher in populations where Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae was not detected (0.37, 95% CI: 0.27-0.51) than in populations where it was detected (0.25, 95% CI: 0.21-0.30). These findings suggest that respiratory pathogens are commonly hosted by bighorn sheep populations and often reduce recruitment rates; however ecological factors may interact with the pathogens to determine population-level effects. Elucidation of such factors could provide insights for management approaches that alleviate the effects of respiratory pathogens in bighorn sheep. Nevertheless, minimizing the introduction of novel pathogens from domestic sheep and goats remains imperative to bighorn sheep conservation.
Project description:Bronchopneumonia is a population-limiting disease in bighorn sheep in much of western North America. Previous investigators have isolated diverse bacteria from the lungs of affected sheep, but no single bacterial species is consistently present, even within single epizootics. We obtained high-quality diagnostic specimens from nine pneumonic bighorn sheep in three populations and analyzed the bacterial populations present in bronchoalveolar lavage specimens of seven by using a culture-independent method (16S rRNA gene amplification and clone library analyses). Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae was detected as a predominant member of the pneumonic lung flora in lambs with early lesions of bronchopneumonia. Specific PCR tests then revealed the consistent presence of M. ovipneumoniae in the lungs of pneumonic bighorn sheep in this study, and M. ovipneumoniae was isolated from lung specimens of five of the animals. Retrospective application of M. ovipneumoniae PCR to DNA extracted from archived formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded lung tissues of historical adult bighorn sheep necropsy specimens supported the association of this agent with bronchopneumonia (16/34 pneumonic versus 0/17 nonpneumonic sheep were PCR positive [P < 0.001]). Similarly, a very strong association was observed between the presence of one or more M. ovipneumoniae antibody-positive animals and the occurrence of current or recent historical bronchopneumonia problems (seropositive animals detected in 9/9 versus 0/9 pneumonic and nonpneumonic populations, respectively [P < 0.001]). M. ovipneumoniae is strongly associated with bronchopneumonia in free-ranging bighorn sheep and is a candidate primary etiologic agent for this disease.
Project description:Spillover diseases have significant consequences for human and animal health, as well as wildlife conservation. We examined spillover and transmission of the pneumonia-associated bacterium Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae in domestic sheep, domestic goats, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats across the western United States using 594 isolates, collected from 1984 to 2017. Our results indicate high genetic diversity of M. ovipneumoniae strains within domestic sheep, whereas only one or a few strains tend to circulate in most populations of bighorn sheep or mountain goats. These data suggest domestic sheep are a reservoir, while the few spillovers to bighorn sheep and mountain goats can persist for extended periods. Domestic goat strains form a distinct clade from those in domestic sheep, and strains from both clades are found in bighorn sheep. The genetic structure of domestic sheep strains could not be explained by geography, whereas some strains are spatially clustered and shared among proximate bighorn sheep populations, supporting pathogen establishment and spread following spillover. These data suggest that the ability to predict M. ovipneumoniae spillover into wildlife populations may remain a challenge given the high strain diversity in domestic sheep and need for more comprehensive pathogen surveillance.
Project description:A real-time PCR assay for the leukotoxin gene of Bibersteinia trehalosi was developed and validated to better identify this pathogen, which is a cause of respiratory disease in bighorn sheep. The specificity of the PCR primers was evaluated with DNA from 59 known isolates of the Pasteurellaceae family. For validation, 162 field samples were compared using both the new assay and an indirect method using 2 sets of published protocols. The real-time PCR assay was found to be specific for the leukotoxin gene of B. trehalosi and provides a rapid and direct approach for detecting leukotoxin-producing forms of this organism from samples containing mixed species of leukotoxin-positive Pasteurellaceae.
Project description:Chronic non-progressive pneumonia, a disease that has become a worldwide epidemic has caused considerable loss to sheep industry. Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae (M. ovipneumoniae) is the causative agent of interstitial pneumonia in sheep, goat and bighorn. We here have identified by immunogold and immunoblotting that elongation factor Tu (EF-Tu) and heat shock protein 70 (HSP 70) are membrane-associated proteins on M. ovipneumonaiea. We have evaluated the humoral and cellular immune responses in vivo by immunizing BALB/c mice with both purified recombinant proteins rEF-Tu and rHSP70. The sera of both rEF-Tu and rHSP70 treated BALB/c mice demonstrated increased levels of IgG, IFN-?, TNF-?, IL-12(p70), IL-4, IL-5 and IL-6. In addition, ELISPOT assay showed significant increase in IFN-?+ secreting lymphocytes in the rHSP70 group when compared to other groups. Collectively our study reveals that rHSP70 induces a significantly better cellular immune response in mice, and may act as a Th1 cytokine-like adjuvant in immune response induction. Finally, growth inhibition test (GIT) of M. ovipneumoniae strain Y98 showed that sera from rHSP70 or rEF-Tu-immunized mice inhibited in vitro growth of M. ovipneumoniae. Our data strongly suggest that EF-Tu and HSP70 of M. ovipneumoniae are membrane-associated proteins capable of inducing antibody production, and cytokine secretion. Therefore, these two proteins may be potential candidates for vaccine development against M. ovipneumoniae infection in sheep.
Project description:Chronic pathogen carriage is one mechanism that allows diseases to persist in populations. We hypothesized that persistent or recurrent pneumonia in bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) populations may be caused by chronic carriers of Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae (Mo). Our experimental approach allowed us to address a conservation need while investigating the role of chronic carriage in disease persistence.We tested our hypothesis in two bighorn sheep populations in South Dakota, USA. We identified and removed Mo chronic carriers from the Custer State Park (treatment) population. Simultaneously, we identified carriers but did not remove them from the Rapid City population (control). We predicted removal would result in decreased pneumonia, mortality, and Mo prevalence. Both population ranges had similar habitat and predator communities but were sufficiently isolated to preclude intermixing.We classified chronic carriers as adults that consistently tested positive for Mo carriage over a 20-month sampling period (n = 2 in the treatment population; n = 2 in control population).We failed to detect Mo or pneumonia in the treatment population after chronic carrier removal, while both remained in the control. Mortality hazard for lambs was reduced by 72% in the treatment population relative to the control (CI = 36%, 91%). There was also a 41% reduction in adult mortality hazard attributable to the treatment, although this was not statistically significant (CI = 82% reduction, 34% increase). Synthesis and Applications: These results support the hypothesis that Mo is a primary causative agent of persistent or recurrent respiratory disease in bighorn sheep populations and can be maintained by a few chronic carriers. Our findings provide direction for future research and management actions aimed at controlling pneumonia in wild sheep and may apply to other diseases.
Project description:Mannheimia (Pasteurella) haemolytica is the only pathogen that consistently causes severe bronchopneumonia and rapid death of bighorn sheep (BHS; Ovis canadensis) under experimental conditions. Paradoxically, Bibersteinia (Pasteurella) trehalosi and Pasteurella multocida have been isolated from BHS pneumonic lungs much more frequently than M. haemolytica. These observations suggest that there may be an interaction between these bacteria, and we hypothesized that B. trehalosi overgrows or otherwise inhibits the growth of M. haemolytica. Growth curves (monoculture) demonstrated that B. trehalosi has a shorter doubling time ( approximately 10 min versus approximately 27 min) and consistently achieves 3-log higher cell density (CFU/ml) compared to M. haemolytica. During coculture M. haemolytica growth was inhibited when B. trehalosi entered stationary phase (6 h) resulting in a final cell density for M. haemolytica that was 6 to 9 logs lower than expected with growth in the absence of B. trehalosi. Coculture supernatant failed to inhibit M. haemolytica growth on agar or in broth, indicating no obvious involvement of lytic phages, bacteriocins, or quorum-sensing systems. This observation was confirmed by limited growth inhibition of M. haemolytica when both pathogens were cultured in the same media but separated by a filter (0.4-microm pore size) that limited contact between the two bacterial populations. There was significant growth inhibition of M. haemolytica when the populations were separated by membranes with a pore size of 8 mum that allowed free contact. These observations demonstrate that B. trehalosi can both outgrow and inhibit M. haemolytica growth with the latter related to a proximity- or contact-dependent mechanism.