Nasal and tonsillar samples were collected from 14 free-ranging clinically healthy Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis canadensis) and 10 domestic sheep (Ovis aries). We identified 194 bacterial isolates, including 101 from bighorn and 93 from domestic sheep. Of these isolates, 115 were gram-positive and 79 were gram-negative. Staphylococcus species were the most numerous gram-positive organisms and had a higher incidence in samples from domestic than from bighorn sheep. In contrast Streptococcus species were present in higher numbers in samples from bighorn sheep. Pasteurella haemolytica, the most common gram-negative bacterium, was isolated from five of five tonsillar but from none of ten nasal samples of domestic sheep, and from seven of eight tonsillar and three of ten nasal samples of bighorn sheep. Most bacteria isolated were considered opportunistic pathogens. However, of the bacteria isolated, P. haemolytica, P. multocida, and Actinomyces pyogenes are most frequently associated with respiratory disease.
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Vol. 30 • No. 1