Multiple publications have reported the use of coyotes (Canis latrans) in animal-based surveillance efforts for the detection of Yersinia pestis. Coyotes are likely exposed via flea bite or oral routes and are presumed to be resistant to the development of clinical disease. These historic data have only been useful for the evaluation of the geographic distribution of Y. pestis in the landscape. Because the canid immunologic response to Y. pestis has not been thoroughly characterized, we conducted experimental inoculation of captive-reared, juvenile coyotes (n = 8) with Y. pestis CO92 via oral or intradermal routes. We measured the humoral response to Y. pestis fraction 1 capsular protein (anti-F1) and found a significant difference between inoculation groups in magnitude and duration of antibody production. The anti-F1 titers in animals exposed intradermally peaked at day 10 postinoculation (PI; range = 1∶32 to 1∶128) with titers remaining stable at 1∶32 through week 12. In contrast, orally inoculated animals developed higher titers (range = 1∶256 to 1∶1,024) that remained stable at 1∶256 to 1∶512 through week 6. No clinical signs of disease were observed, and minimal changes were noted in body temperature, white blood cell counts, and acute phase proteins during the 7 days PI. Gross pathology was unremarkable, and minimal changes were noted in histopathology at days 3 and 7 PI. Rechallenge at 14 wk PI via similar dosage and routes resulted in marked differences in antibody response between groups. Animals in the orally inoculated group produced a striking increase in anti-F1 titers (up to 1∶4,096) within 3 days, whereas there was minimal to no increase in antibody response in the intradermal group. Information gathered from this experimental trial may provide additional insight into the spatial and temporal evaluation of coyote plague serology.
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Vol. 49 • No. 4