University of Wyoming Extension News

Governor’s Brucellosis Coordination Team meets April 13 in Pinedale

An update on brucellosis in cattle and bison in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho and information gleaned from hunter-harvested and feed-ground elk are among topics at the Governor’s Brucellosis Coordination Team meeting Wednesday, April 13, in Pinedale.

The meeting is 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at the Sublette County Library, 155 S. Tyler Ave., according to Bruce Hoar, brucellosis coordinator in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Wyoming.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department will discuss the results of their elk surveillance.

Other items include:

* A report on public forums related to the Brucellosis Management Action Plans for elk herd units in the region.

* UW researchers providing the latest information on their work.

* A brief report on the National Academy of Sciences study of brucellosis in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

For more information, contact Hoar at 307-766-3372 or

Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory earns reaccreditation

Vet sci Laegreid, William, 04-17-12

William Laegreid

The Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory (WSVL) in Laramie has achieved full accreditation for its work to diagnose potentially high-stakes animal diseases in the Cowboy State.

An eight-month review by the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians culminated in March with recognition that personnel, practices, equipment and facilities meet the highest professional standards. Reaccreditation is required every five years.

Heading the WSVL is William Laegreid, professor and head of the University of Wyoming Department of Veterinary Science, of which the laboratory is part.

He pointed out someone is on the job 365 days a year.

“These are dedicated, hard-working people,” Laegreid said of the more than 30 faculty and staff members and approximately 25-30 university student workers.

The WSVL operates at the intersection of health, disease and mortality of wildlife, domestic animals and humans. Staff members and student employees conduct animal blood tests and biopsies and analyze carcasses, organs and tissue samples. The need for a diagnosis may also lead them to test environmental samples such as forage, feed, water and bedding.

In 2015, the WSVL handled 21,420 cases.

Investigations could be prompted by an aborted calf, elk found dead, suspected chronic wasting disease in a hunter’s kill or the sudden loss of a companion animal. The lab also performs health screening tests. Each day, on average, 80 to 100 cases are received by the WSVL. Continue reading

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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