Yersinia enterocolitica serotype O:9 has identical O-antigens to those of Brucella abortus and has apparently caused false-positive reactions in numerous brucellosis serologic tests in elk (Cervus canadensis) from southwest Montana. We investigated whether a similar phenomenon was occurring in brucellosis antibody–positive bison (Bison bison) using Y. enterocolitica culturing techniques and multiplex PCR of four diagnostic loci. Feces from 53 Yellowstone bison culled from the population and 113 free-roaming bison from throughout the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) were tested. Yersinia enterocolitica O:9 was not detected in any of 53 the bison samples collected at slaughter facilities or in any of the 113 fecal samples from free-ranging bison. One other Y. enterocolitica serotype was isolated; however, it is not known to cause cross-reaction on B. abortus serologic assays because it lacks the perosamine synthetase gene and thus the O-antigens. These findings suggest that Y. enterocolitica O:9 cross-reactivity with B. abortus antigens is unlikely to have been a cause of false-positive serology tests in GYE bison and that Y. enterocolitica prevalence was low in bison in the GYE during this study.
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Vol. 48 • No. 3