Submitted to: Journal of Wildlife Diseases
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/2/2003
Publication Date: 10/1/2003
Citation: Bender, L.C., Li, H., Thompson, B.C., Morrow, P.C., Valdez, R. 2003. Infectious Disease Survey of Gemsbok in New Mexico. Journal of Wildlife Diseases. 39(4):772-778. Interpretive Summary: Since gemsbok were introduced onto White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish to provide a huntable big game ungulate in an area of the state in 1969, their range and population density have been greatly increased. However, concurrent with expansion of gemsbok was a decline in native ungulates, particularly desert mule deer and the state-endangered desert bighorn sheep. Although other unknown factors might play important roles in the decline of the native ungulates, in this study, we surveyed gemsbok in 2001 for exposure to a variety of disease pathogens potentially important for native ungulates, including Leptospira, Brucella abortus, Brucella ovis, Johne's disease, anaplasmosis, bovine viral diarrhea virus, infectious bovine rhinotracheitis, bluetonge virus, bovine respiratory syncytial virus, parainfluenza-3 virus, malignant catarrhal fever and certain parasites. The results showed that high seroprevalence rates were found in 50 gemsbok sampled for malignant catarrhal fever (98%), bluetongue (96%), bovine respiratory syncytial virus (66%), and parainfluenza-3 virus (20%). The only parasite detected was Nematodirus spp. with low numbers of eggs in the gemsbok (6%). Exposure to the above pathogens in gemsbok is of interest to managers because of potential implications for recovery of desert bighorn sheep and desert mule deer in the White Sands area.
Technical Abstract: Exotic wildlife can introduce new diseases or act as reservoirs of endemic diseases. On White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, significant declines in populations of native ungulates generally correspond to increases in range and population density of the exotic gemsbok (Oryx gazella gazella), introduced beginning in 1969. We surveyed gemsbok in 2001 for exposure to a variety of diseases potentially important for native ungulates. High seroprevalence rates were found for malignant catarrhal fever (49/50 serum; 43/45 whole blood), bluetongue (48/50), bovine respiratory syncytial virus (33/50), and parainfluenza-3 virus (10/50). Low numbers of Nematodirus spp. eggs (2-5 eggs/g in 3/50 gemsbok) were the only parasites detected in gemsbok. Exposure to the above diseases in gemsbok is of interest to managers because of potential implications for recovery of desert bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis mexicana) and desert mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus crooki) in the White Sands area, as each has been implicated in deaths of these species either in the White Sands area or elsewhere in the western/southwestern United States.