Swift foxes (Vulpes velox) have been proposed as potential carriers of fleas infected with the bacterium Yersinia pestis between areas of epizootics in black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus). We examined antibody prevalence rates of a population of swift foxes in Colorado, USA, and used polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays to examine their flea biota for evidence of Y. pestis. Fifteen of 61 (24%) captured foxes were seropositive, and antibody prevalence was spatially correlated with epizootic plague activity in prairie dog colonies in the year of, and previous to, the study. Foxes commonly harbored the flea Pulex simulans, though none of the fleas was positive for Y. pestis.
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Vol. 43 • No. 3