Yersinia pestis, a bacterial pathogen that causes sylvatic plague, is present in the prairie dogs (Cynomys spp.) of North America. Epizootics of sylvatic plague through transmission in vectors (fleas) commonly completely extirpate colonies of prairie dogs. Wildlife managers employ a wide variety of insecticidal treatments to suppress plague and conserve prairie dog colonies. I compiled and statistically compared the available literature describing methods of plague control and their relative effectiveness in managing plague outbreaks by using meta-analyses. Natural log response ratios were used to calculate insecticide-induced vector mortality and vaccine-conferred survival increases in prairie dogs in 37 publications. Further, subgroupings were used to explore the most effective of the available vector suppression insecticides and plague suppression vaccines. After accounting for the type of treatment used and the method by which it was applied, I observed plague reduction through use of both insecticides and vaccines. Insecticides resulted in a significant reduction of the abundance of vectors by 91.34% compared to non-treated hosts (p<0.0001). Vaccines improved survival of prairie dog hosts by 4.00% (p<0.0001) compared to control populations. The use of insecticides such as deltamethrin and carbaryl is recommended to stop actively spreading epizootics, and dual antigen oral vaccines to initially suppress outbreaks.
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Vol. 44 • No. 1