Summary

 

The purpose of this project was to survey for Johne's disease (paratuberculosis) in caribou herds in Canada and Greenland. Johne's disease is a contagious, chronic and sometimes fatal infection that primarily affects the small intestine of ruminants. It is caused by the Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) bacterium.

In partnership with CARMA and northern wildlife agencies we examined fecal samples for the presence of MAP in order to determine the spatial distribution of Johne's disease in caribou and to compare among herds. Fecal samples were cultured for MAP and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was used to detect genetic material from MAP if present.  When possible, serum samples were also tested for antibodies against MAP. Comparisons will be made between different herds.
Based on results in 2008, we decided to collect additional samples in 2009 to improve diagnostic sensitivity. These included ileum and ileo-caecal lymph nodes from caribou of the George River, Leaf River, Kangerlussuaq-Sisimiut, and Bathurst herds. Lab analyses of these samples are scheduled for 2011.

 

Results

 

Within the CARMA project, fecal samples were collected from hunted caribou in Northern Canada and Greenland. If possible, information was collected on gender, gestational status, estimated age, body condition and GPS coordinates of capture location. Fecal samples were sent to the veterinary lab at the University of Calgary. All fecal samples were decontaminated to eliminate fungi, spores and non-mycobacterium spp. After 56 days of growth in the TREK system, MAP can be detected and confirmed using PCR.

 

A total of 31 positive animals were detected in 8 of 13 herds tested. This could have implications for the spread of the disease between species, and will be an important consideration for any future translocation of animals.

 

Applicatioins

 

The presence of Johne's disease in both wild cervids and bovids is increasingly being reported, although the epidemiology and impact in wild species is not understood. Johne's disease is a concern for human health too, due to its zoonotic potential. MAP has been linked in several reports to Crohn's disease in humans. A special concern is the consumption of (raw) intestines of cervids by indigenous people because intestines may contain a high MAP load.

 

 

A Poster presentation of the project was presented at CARMA-5 in Vancouver 2008. Click here to download.

 

Contacts

 

Taya Forde
Graduate Student
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
University of Calgary
3330 Hospital Dr NW
Calgary, AB, Canada T2N 4N1
E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Tel: 403-702-2340

 

Karin Orsel
Assistant professor
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
University of Calgary
3330 Hospital Dr NW
Calgary, AB, Canada  T2N 4N1
E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Tel: 403-210-6127

 

Susan Kutz
Associate Professor
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
University of Calgary
3330 Hospital Dr NW
Calgary, AB, Canada  T2N 4N1
E: skutz 'at' ucalgary.ca
Tel: 403-210-7862

 

 

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