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1 January 2019 LEPTOSPIROSIS IN URBAN AND SUBURBAN AMERICAN BLACK BEARS (URSUS AMERICANUS) IN WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA, USA
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Abstract

American black bear (Ursus americanus) populations in North Carolina, US have recovered significantly in recent decades and now occupy much of western North Carolina, including urbansuburban areas. We used the black bear as a potential sentinel for leptospirosis, a bacterial zoonotic disease caused by Leptospira spp., which is maintained by domestic and wild mammals. We determined whether Leptospira spp. were present across a gradient of housing densities in the urban and suburban black bear population in and around Asheville, North Carolina using serologic and molecular surveys. We collected blood from captured black bears (n=94) and kidneys and bladders from carcasses (n=19). We tested a total of 96 (47 females, 47 males, and 2 unknown) serum samples by microscopic agglutination test (MAT) and had positive results (titer .1:100) for L. kirschneri serovar Grippotyphosa (L. Grippotyphosa) in 4 females (8%) and 5 males (10%). No other serovars showed elevated titers in MAT. We tested a total of 125 samples using PCR (n=96 serum, n=20 kidney, and n=9 bladders) and obtained positive results from one serum (1%), one kidney (5%), and one bladder (11%). The presence of Leptospira spp. in black bears occupying an urban and suburban landscape may indicate a more extensive occurrence of the bacteria among animals in the study region because black bears are the top carnivore in that ecosystem. Potential threats of widespread contamination during natural events such as flood or drought must be considered.

© Wildlife Disease Association 2019
Indrani Sasmal, Nicholas P. Gould, Krysten L. Schuler, Yung-Fu Chang, Anil Thachil, Jennifer Strules, Colleen Olfenbuttel, Shubham Datta, and Christopher S. DePerno "LEPTOSPIROSIS IN URBAN AND SUBURBAN AMERICAN BLACK BEARS (URSUS AMERICANUS) IN WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA, USA," Journal of Wildlife Diseases 55(1), 74-83, (1 January 2019). https://doi.org/10.7589/2017-10-263
Received: 26 October 2017; Accepted: 23 June 2018; Published: 1 January 2019
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