Eight domestic ferrets (Mustela putorius furo) and two Siberian polecats (M. eversmanni) were inoculated subcutaneously with 12 to 1.2 × 107 Yersinia pestis originally isolated during an epizootic of plague in white-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys leucurus) near Meeteetse, Park County, Wyoming (USA) in 1985. None of the ferrets or polecats developed clinical signs of disease which suggested that black-footed ferrets (M. nigripes), a congener, also would be resistant to plague. All animals receiving ≥ 1.2 × 103 organisms produced serum antibodies detected by the passive hemagglutination test with titers peaking at 1:1,024 and remaining positive until at least 219 days postinoculation. Sera collected from 12 free-ranging black-footed ferrets near Meeteetse in 1984 and 1985 were negative for antibodies against Y. pestis. Prevalence of antibodies against Y. pestis was high in other carnivores collected from the same area in 1986.
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Vol. 27 • No. 3