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Millins C.,University of Saskatchewan | Reid A.,Ontario Veterinary College | Curry P.,Saskatchewan Ministry of Health | Drebot M.A.,Public Health Agency of Canada | And 3 more authors.
Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases | Year: 2011

This study evaluated the use of house sparrow (Passer domesticus) nestlings as sentinels of West Nile virus (WNV) in the prairie grasslands of Saskatchewan. In the summer of 2006, 600 house sparrow nestlings were collected and pooled tissues tested by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction. All tested negative for WNV. During the same period, no WNV was detected by mosquito surveillance in the study area and 15 WNV-infected pools were collected from the nearby city of Estevan. Six percent of avian carcasses collected from Regina, a city 100 km from the study area in the same ecozone, were infected with WNV. In 2007, 200 house sparrow nestlings were collected and 4 tested positive for WNV, a prevalence of 2%. Ninety-seven house sparrow eggs were also collected and WNV antibodies were measured in the yolk. Seven eggs had measurable titers, a prevalence of 7.2%. Combined WNV surveillance showed high levels of WNV transmission in 2007; 112 WNV-infected mosquito pools were collected from nearby cities of Estevan and Weyburn, and the proportion of WNV infected avian carcasses from Regina was 78%. There were 1456 human cases of WNV in Saskatchewan in 2007, compared to 19 cases in 2006. The study concluded that house sparrow nestlings are not useful as an early warning of WNV circulation, or as a measure of the intensity of WNV activity in the prairie grasslands. Also, the study determined that maternally derived antibody did not have a significant limiting effect on WNV transmission to house sparrow nestlings in 2007, a year of epidemic WNV activity in the study area. © Copyright 2011, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Source


Kutz S.J.,University of Calgary | Kutz S.J.,Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Center | Checkley S.,University of Calgary | Verocai G.G.,University of Calgary | And 8 more authors.
Global Change Biology | Year: 2013

Climate warming is occurring at an unprecedented rate in the Arctic and is having profound effects on host-parasite interactions, including range expansion. Recently, two species of protostrongylid nematodes have emerged for the first time in muskoxen and caribou on Victoria Island in the western Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Umingmakstrongylus pallikuukensis, the muskox lungworm, was detected for the first time in 2008 in muskoxen at a community hunt on the southwest corner of the island and by 2012, it was found several hundred kilometers east in commercially harvested muskoxen near the town of Ikaluktutiak. In 2010, Varestrongylus sp., a recently discovered lungworm of caribou and muskoxen was found in muskoxen near Ikaluktutiak and has been found annually in this area since then. Whereas invasion of the island by U. pallikuukensis appears to have been mediated by stochastic movement of muskoxen from the mainland to the southwest corner of the island, Varestrongylus has likely been introduced at several times and locations by the seasonal migration of caribou between the island and the mainland. A newly permissive climate, now suitable for completion of the parasite life cycles in a single summer, likely facilitated the initial establishment and now drives range expansion for both parasites. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Source


Molnar P.K.,Princeton University | Dobson A.P.,Princeton University | Dobson A.P.,Santa Fe Institute | Kutz S.J.,University of Calgary | Kutz S.J.,Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Center
Global Change Biology | Year: 2013

Climate change is expected to alter the dynamics of host-parasite systems globally. One key element in developing predictive models for these impacts is the life cycle of the parasite. It is, for example, commonly assumed that parasites with an indirect life cycle would be more sensitive to changing environmental conditions than parasites with a direct life cycle due to the greater chance that at least one of their obligate host species will go extinct. Here, we challenge this notion by contrasting parasitic nematodes with a direct life cycle against those with an indirect life cycle. Specifically, we suggest that behavioral thermoregulation by the intermediate host may buffer the larvae of indirectly transmitted parasites against temperature extremes, and hence climate warming. We term this the 'shelter effect'. Formalizing each life cycle in a comprehensive model reveals a fitness advantage for the direct life cycle over the indirect life cycle at low temperatures, but the shelter effect reverses this advantage at high temperatures. When examined for seasonal environments, the models suggest that climate warming may in some regions create a temporal niche in mid-summer that excludes parasites with a direct life cycle, but allows parasites with an indirect life cycle to persist. These patterns are amplified if parasite larvae are able to manipulate their intermediate host to increase ingestion probability by definite hosts. Furthermore, our results suggest that exploiting the benefits of host sheltering may have aided the evolution of indirect life cycles. Our modeling framework utilizes the Metabolic Theory of Ecology to synthesize the complexities of host behavioral thermoregulation and its impacts on various temperature-dependent parasite life history components in a single measure of fitness, R0. It allows quantitative predictions of climate change impacts, and is easily generalized to many host-parasite systems. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Source


Forzan M.J.,Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Center | Vanderstichel R.,University of Prince Edward Island | Hogan N.S.,University of Prince Edward Island | Teather K.,University of Prince Edward Island | Wood J.,Pisces Molecular LLC
Diseases of Aquatic Organisms | Year: 2010

Chytridiomycosis, caused by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), has resulted in the decline or extinction of approximately 200 frog species worldwide. It has been reported throughout much of North America, but its presence on Prince Edward Island (PEI), on the eastern coast of Canada, was unknown. To determine the presence and prevalence of Bd on PEI, skin swabs were collected from 115 frogs from 18 separate sites across the province during the summer of 2009. The swabs were tested through single round end-point PCR for the presence of Bd DNA. Thirty-one frogs were positive, including 25/93 (27%) green frogs Lithobates (Rana) clamitans, 5/20 (25%) northern leopard frogs L. (R.) pipiens, and 1/2 (50%) wood frogs L. sylvaticus (formerly R. sylvatica); 12 of the 18 (67%) sites had at least 1 positive frog. The overall prevalence of Bd infection was estimated at 26.9% (7.2-46.7%, 95% CI). Prevalence amongst green frogs and leopard frogs was similar, but green frogs had a stronger PCR signal when compared to leopard frogs, regardless of age (p < 0.001) and body length (p = 0.476). Amongst green frogs, juveniles were more frequently positive than adults (p = 0.001). Green frogs may be the most reliable species to sample when looking for Bd in eastern North America. The 1 wood frog positive for Bd was found dead from chytridiomycosis; none of the other frogs that were positive for Bd by PCR showed any obvious signs of illness. Further monitoring will be required to determine what effect Bd infection has on amphibian population health on PEI. © Inter-Research 2010. Source


Kutz S.J.,University of Calgary | Kutz S.J.,Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Center | Hoberg E.P.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Molnar P.K.,Princeton University | And 3 more authors.
International Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife | Year: 2014

Climate change is occurring very rapidly in the Arctic, and the processes that have taken millions of years to evolve in this very extreme environment are now changing on timescales as short as decades. These changes are dramatic, subtle and non-linear. In this article, we discuss the evolving insights into host-parasite interactions for wild ungulate species, specifically, muskoxen and caribou, in the North American Arctic. These interactions occur in an environment that is characterized by extremes in temperature, high seasonality, and low host species abundance and diversity. We believe that lessons learned in this system can guide wildlife management and conservation throughout the Arctic, and can also be generalized to more broadly understand host-parasite interactions elsewhere. We specifically examine the impacts of climate change on host-parasite interactions and focus on: (I) the direct temperature effects on parasites; (II) the importance of considering the intricacies of host and parasite ecology for anticipating climate change impacts; and (III) the effect of shifting ecological barriers and corridors. Insights gained from studying the history and ecology of host-parasite systems in the Arctic will be central to understanding the role that climate change is playing in these more complex systems. © 2014 The Authors. Source

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