Studying How Plague Vaccine Affects Prairie Ecosystems
Sylvatic plague is a disease of wild rodents that occasionally spills over into humans and other animals. This study will complement an ongoing study that is evaluating the efficacy of an oral sylvatic plague vaccine (SPV) in prairie dogs. At selected study sites where blinded SPV and placebo treatments are already being given to prairie dogs, researchers will trap wild mice and other small rodents within one to two months after SPV vaccines are distributed. They will then collect blood and other samples from these rodents to assess their response to vaccination and evaluate plague prevalence. The results of this study will be critical to wildlife managers and others concerned with the conservation of endangered black-footed ferrets, which are susceptible to the plague, and prairie ecosystems. It may also lead to more effective application of SPV for conservation purposes, as small rodents are suspected to be the primary reservoir or maintenance host of plague.
Dr. Gebbiena M. Bron, University of Wisconsin, Fellowship Training Grant