[Source: Vector Borne and Zoonotic Diseases, full page: (LINK). Abstract, edited.]
Serological Epidemiological Investigation of Tibetan Sheep (Ovis aries) Plague in Qinghai, China
Ruixia Dai, Meiying Qi, Haoming Xiong, Xiaoyan Yang, Jian He, Zhikai Zhang, Hanqing Yang, Juan Jin, Xiang Li, Youquan Xin, Yonghai Yang, Cunxiang Li, Zhenjun Li, Jianguo Xu, Zuyun Wang, Wei Li, and Baiqing Wei
Published Online: 25 Sep 2018 / DOI: https://doi.org/10.1089/vbz.2017.2257
The plague, which is caused by the Gram-negative coccobacillus bacterium Yersinia pestis, has been classified as a reemerging infectious disease by the World Health Organization. The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau natural plague focus is the largest plague focus in China, and Marmota himalayana is the primary host of the plague. Tibetan sheep (Ovis aries) were first identified as naturally infected hosts of Y. pestis based on etiological evidence in 1975, and activities such as slaughtering or skinning Tibetan sheep that have been infected by Y. pestis or died from Y. pestis infection had caused severe human plague in Qinghai. Tibetan sheep are important domestic livestock in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Knowledge regarding the infection rate of Y. pestis in Tibetan sheep is important for understanding the range of infection and improving measures to control plague epidemics in this area. In this study, a serological survey involving 12,710 Tibetan sheep in all 44 counties in Qinghai Province was conducted. The total positive rate of indirect hemagglutination assay for Y. pestis in Tibetan sheep in Qinghai was 0.68% (86/12,710). Serological positivity to the Y. pestis F1 antibody was found in Tibetan sheep in all prefectures, except the Haidong and Haibei prefectures in Qinghai, with the seropositive rate in different counties ranging from 0.33% to 5.2% and the titers in the positive sera ranging from 1:20 to 1:5120. In addition, the seropositive rates in animal plague focus counties were higher than the rates in non-animal plague counties. Such results indicated a widespread infection of Tibetan sheep with Y. pestis in Qinghai, even though only sporadic epidemics of Tibetan sheep plague have been reported in Qinghai.
Keywords: Yersinia pestis; Plague; Sheeps; China; Tibet; Qinghai.