Periodic pneumonia outbreaks cause large-scale die-offs that threaten the viability of bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) populations. Bighorns are highly susceptible to pneumonia, and in some cases this susceptibility may be exacerbated by trace mineral deficiencies. To evaluate responses to injectable selenium supplementation, eight captive bighorn sheep were treated with either an injectable sodium selenite supplement or a saline control. We collected 6-ml blood aliquots before and at 1, 6, and 12 wk posttreatment. We submitted one set of aliquots immediately to measure selenium (Se) and zinc (Zn) concentrations and glutathione-peroxidase (GSH-Px) activity; additional aliquots were held at about 22 C and then submitted at 1, 3, and 7 days postcollection to assess effects of storage on these measures. Neither Se nor GSH-Px were affected by selenite injections. Both Se and GSH-Px demonstrated small linear decays over the 7-day storage period (0.011 ppm/day [SE=0.0027] and 15.78 mmole/l/sec/day [SE=6.88], respectively); in contrast, Zn concentrations in stored samples increased logarithmically (0.35 ppm/day on the natural log scale). Blood Se and GSH-Px were not correlated in sampled bighorns; however, because all values for both measures were within normal limits, lack of correlation did not affect interpretation of these data in our study.
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Vol. 45 • No. 3