University of Wyoming Extension News

Diseases prompt caution from Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory director

Will Laegreid is director of the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory

Will Laegreid is director of the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory

Tularemia, plague, West Nile virus, rabies, vesicular stomatitis – Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory experts are cautioning residents to monitor not only their pets and livestock, but also themselves this summer.

Several cases of tularemia in wildlife and domestic animals have been diagnosed by the WSVL, including in Albany, Platte and Washakie counties, said Will Laegreid, WSVL director.

“There have been a number of human tularemia cases in Colorado this summer and two so far in Weston County, and we would like to prevent any more cases in Wyoming if possible,” Laegreid said. The Wyoming Department of Health reported the cases.

Caused by bacteria, tularemia – also called rabbit fever – is commonly associated with rabbits and rodents, he said, and outbreaks often coincide with booming rabbit populations, as seen in Wyoming this year.

“Tularemia may be quite serious in humans, who may become infected through direct contact with wild rabbits, prairie dogs, voles and other rodents through insect or tick bites or through ingestion of contaminated food or water,” said Laegreid.

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UW seeks better brucellosis control through vaccine development, vaccination practices

Ph.D. student Alexis Dadelahi and undergraduate student Matthew Rorke conducting brucellosis research at the University of Wyoming.

Ph.D. student Alexis Dadelahi and undergraduate student Matthew Rorke conducting brucellosis research at the University of Wyoming.

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources scientists at the University of Wyoming are hopeful their brucellosis studies may produce a better vaccine for livestock and are studying whether a change in vaccination procedures could offer better control.

Brucellosis can cause elk, bison and cattle to abort fetuses. The highest risk of brucellosis transmission to other animals occurs after an animal has an abortion. The organism can also be transmitted to humans, often through consumption of unpasteurized milk or dairy products such as soft cheese, which may result in a severe disease called undulant fever.

Brucellosis is an exotic disease that came from Europe and European cattle and was then transmitted to wildlife in the U.S., establishing the reservoir in elk and bison seen in the Greater YellowstoneArea.

“We have eradicated the disease from livestock but occasionally get a disease spillover from elk transmitting the organism to livestock,” said Bruce Hoar, University of Wyoming brucellosis research coordinator. “One of the ways we try to control brucellosis is through the use of vaccinations.”

Scientists are interested in pursuing vaccines for wildlife, particularly elk; existing vaccines for cattle are not very effective at preventing disease in elk. The emphasis, though, is on livestock vaccines, said Hoar.

Cattle in the U.S. have been vaccinated since the 1930s with a vaccine called Strain 19. That vaccine was moderately effective preventing 60-70 percent of cattle from aborting after becoming infected, said Hoar. Strain 19 was replaced by a vaccine called RB51 in the 1990s and is the currently licensed vaccine for cattle.

“It, too, only protects 60-70 percent of animals in the herd, so that leaves 30-40 percent of the herd vulnerable, and, because of that, we are looking for better vaccines, and that is what a team of researchers here at the University of Wyoming have been involved in for a number of years,” said Hoar.

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Pet owners advised to vaccinate against rabies

Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory scientists are urging pet owners – especially those in Laramie and Goshen counties – to have pets vaccinated against rabies.

Forty-one of 66 tests of animals from the two counties this year have been positive, said Myrna Miller, a virologist with the University of Wyoming’s WSVL. Thirty-seven skunks and one fox from Goshen County and three skunks from Laramie County have been positive. All have been from the South Central rabies strain.

“It is important for pet owners to vaccinate their pets against rabies,” said Miller in the Department of Veterinary Sciences, which manages the WSVL. “Even if the animal does not usually have contact with wildlife, rabid skunks and foxes have been known to climb into outdoor dog kennels and attack large dogs and even humans.”

Miller advised pet owners to contact their veterinarians if rabies is suspected and report allanimal bites to their doctors.

Most cases of rabies in Wyoming have been in skunks and bats, but other animals include cats anddogs, horses and cattle, squirrels and foxes, she said.

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UW agricultural student says national cattleman’s internship ‘incredible’

Sarah Notti

Sarah Notti

Time spent as an intern with the National Cattleman’s Beef Association (NCBA) was an incredible opportunity, an animal and veterinary sciences major at the University of Wyoming said.

Sarah Notti of Otter, Mont., in the southeastern portion of the state was selected as one of 18 interns for the group’s national convention Feb. 3-9 in Tampa, Fla. Notti, a junior in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, said the internship was hands-on and supported the NCBA with anything needed to help at the convention.

That included setting up rooms and directing people to correct locations.

“Although this itself does not directly pertain to what I am studying,” said Notti, “the connections I made there were great, and I was immersed in a world full of people at the top of the industry I hope to someday be a contributor to.”

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UW Ranch Horse Team members lasso awards

Lacey Teigen

Lacey Teigen

UW Ranch Horse Team member Lacey Teigen received multiple honors at the Colorado-Wyoming-Nebraska Stock Horse Association’s (CoWN-SH) 2012 Year End Annual Awards Banquet Saturday, Feb. 9, at the Eaton Country Club in Eaton,Colo.

Teigen, a student in the Department of Animal Science in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, was honored as the 2012 collegiate limited non-pro champion, reserve champion in trial and reining, champion in ranch pleasure, and she placed in the top five for cow-working.

“It was so nice to be recognized,” said Teigen, a Laramie native. “I had worked so hard and finally achieved a huge goal in my life.”

Teigen also won reserve limited non-pro overall at the Region 5 Championship in Denver last November.

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